Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Techt v. Hughes case brief

Techt v. Hughes


Procedural History:
NATURE OF CASE: Appeal from inheritance dispute decided in favor of non-citizen.

Overview:

FACT SUMMARY: Techt (D) claimed that she was entitled to take property in New York on the basis of the Treaty of 1848 between the United States and Austria, despite the fact that the U.S. and Austria were at war at the time.
FACTS: Techt’s (D) father, an American citizen, died intestate in New York. Techt (D) had married an AustroHungarian citizen and, under federal law at that time, had lost her United States citizenship as a result. Under New York law, Techt (D) could take property as inheritance if she were found to be an alien friend. When the court found that Tech (D) was an alien friend and that she could claim half the inheritance, her sister (P) appealed, claiming she was entitled to the whole property because Techt (D) was an alien enemy. Since the U.S. was at war with Austria-Hungary in 1919, the appeals court found Techt (D) was not an alien friend under the statute. Techt (D) then argued that under the terms of the Treaty of 1848 between the U.S. and Austria, nationals of either state could take real property by descent.

Issue:

ISSUE: Where a treaty between belligerents at war has not been denounced, must the court decide whether the provision involved in a controversy is inconsistent with national policy or safety?

Outcome:

HOLDING AND DECISION: (Cardozo, J.J Yes. Where a treaty between belligerents at war has not been denounced, the court must decide whether the provision involved in a controversy is inconsistent with national policy or safety. A treaty, if in force, is the supreme law of the land. There is nothing incompatible with the policy of the government, the safety of the nation, or the maintenance of the war in the enforcement of this treaty, so as to sustain Techt’s (D) title. Affirmed.

Rule:

where a treaty between belligerents at war has not been denounced, the court must decide whether the provision involved in a controversy is inconsistent with national policy or safety.

Analysis:

The court noted that the effect of war on the existing treaties of belligerents is an unsettled area of the law. Some have said that treaties end ipso facto at time of war. The court here found that treaties end only to the extent that their execution is incompatible with the war.

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