SOPER V. LAWRENCE BROTHERS CO., 201 U. S. 359 (1906)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Soper v. Lawrence Brothers Co., 201 U.S. 359 (1906)

Soper v. Lawrence Brothers Company

No. 206

Argued March 9, 12, 13, 1906

Decided April 2, 1906

201 U.S. 359


The distinction between trespass and disseisin may be modified by statute as properly as it may be established by common law. Nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment hinders a state from enacting that, in future ,the doing of such overt acts of ownership as are possible on wild lands, under a recorded deed showing that the actor claims title coupled with the payment of taxes, the owner not paying any meanwhile or doing any act indicative of ownership, shall constitute a disseisin which, if continued long enough, shall bar an action for the land; nor is such an act unconstitutional because it fixes the period at twenty years and allows it to become operative as to suits commenced five years after its enactment, as it would be within the power of the legislature to fix the entire period of limitation at five years, and the owner would have an opportunity to defeat the disseisin by asserting ownership within that time; such a statute would not be construed as permitting suit to be barred by a period of twenty years' inactivity prior to the enactment of the statute if acts of ownership were exercised thereafter.

If a state statute, as construed by the state court, is constitutional, this Court follows that construction.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 201 U. S. 365

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