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United States Supreme Court


No. 445

Argued: Decided: October 25, 1915

Messrs. Judson Harmon, Edward Colston, A. W. Goldsmith, George Hoadly, Lessing Rosenthal, Charles H. Hamill, and Leo F. Wormser for appellants.

Messrs. Walter A. De Camp, Dudley V. Sutphin, Leo J. Brumleve, Jr., Edwards F. Peters, and Paul V. Connolly for appellees. [239 U.S. 11, 12]  

Memorandum opinion by Mr. Justice McReynolds, by direction of the court:

The I. Rheinstrom & Sons Company was adjudged a bankrupt in April, 1912. Liens upon its property were claimed by appellees under a Kentucky statute which appellants (general creditors) maintained contravened the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Overruling the referee, the district court allowed the liens (207 Fed. 119), and this action was approved by the circuit court of appeals, March 2, 1915, in an opinion which expressly upheld the validity of the statute (221 Fed. 829). Appellees have moved to dismiss the present appeal.

Section 4, act of Congress, approved January 28, 1915 (38 Stat. at L. 803, 804, chap. 22), provides: 'That the judgments and decrees of the circuit courts of appeals in all proceed- [239 U.S. 11, 13]   ings and cases arising under the bankruptcy act and in all controversies arising in such proceedings and cases shall be final, save only that it shall be competent for the Supreme Court to require by certiorari, upon the petition of any party thereto, that the proceeding, case, or controversy be certified to it for review and determination, with the same power and authority as if taken to that court by appeal or writ of error; but certiorari shall not be allowed in any such proceeding, case, or controversy unless the petition therefor is presented to the Supreme Court within three months from the date of such judgment or decree.'

Manifestly, the words of the quoted section include the decree below, and inhibit an appeal therefrom. It is argued, however, that they should be so construed as to exclude causes requiring interpretation of state statutes and application of the Federal Constitution, and thereby limited in effect to the supposed purpose of Congress to relieve this court only from the necessity of reviewing bankruptcy cases which 'involve complicated questions of fact rather than of law.' We see no reason to doubt that the plain language of the enactment aptly expresses the fixed legislative intent. The appeal is accordingly dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

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