Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States

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The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued January 16–18, 1889
Decided May 19, 1890
Full case name The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints et al. v. United States; Romney et al. v. United States
Citations 136 U.S. 1 (more)
10 S. Ct. 792; 34 L. Ed. 478; 1890 U.S. LEXIS 2199
Prior history Edmunds-Tucker Act provisions authorizing disincorporation of LDS Church upheld in U.S. v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 5 Utah 361, 15 P. 473 (Utah.Terr. 1887). Appeal from the Supreme Court of the Utah Territory
Holding
Congress has supreme authority over territories, including power to dissolve the LDS Church's corporation and seize its property. Under parens patriae principals, congress may redirect assets to charitable purposes within Utah Territory. Property was properly not transferred to church members because they were using it to further outlawed polygamy.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Bradley, joined by Miller, Harlan, Gray, Blatchford, Brewer
Dissent Fuller, joined by Lamar, Field
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I; Edmunds-Tucker Act
Mormonism and polygamy
The Family of Joseph F. Smith
A Mormon polygamist family in 1888.

The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States, 136 U.S. 1 (1890) was a Supreme Court case that upheld the Edmunds–Tucker Act on May 19, 1890. Among other things, the act disincorporated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

The ruling in Late Corporation would have directed federal escheat of substantially all the property of the legally disincorporated LDS Church, which was estimated at $3 million. Following the decision, the U.S. Attorney for Utah Territory reported seizing only $381,812 in assets.[1] Real property, including LDS temples, was never seized, although the ruling authorized it. Within five months, the LDS Church officially discontinued the practice of plural marriage with the 1890 Manifesto. On October 25, 1893, a congressional resolution authorized the release of assets seized from the LDS Church because, "said church has discontinued the practice of polygamy and no longer encourages or gives countenance to any manner of practices in violation of law, or contrary to good morals or public policy."[2]

Chief Justice Fuller's dissent asserted that though Congress has the power to criminalize polygamy, "it is not authorized under the cover of that power to seize and confiscate the property of persons, individuals, or corporations, without office found, because they may have been guilty of criminal practices."[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul G. Kauper & Stephen C. Ellis, "Religious Corporations and the Law," 71 Mich. L. Rev. (1972-1973), 1499, 1517. This figure includes seized stock and cash in bank accounts as well as $10,000 "credits due on sheep."
  2. ^ Jt. Res 11., 53d Cong., 1st Sess., 28 Stat. 980
  3. ^ 136 U.S. 67 (1890)