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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicot County Drainage Dist. v. Baxter State Bank, 308 U.S. 371 (1940)

Chicot County Drainage District v. Baxter State Bank

No. 122

Argued December 7, 1939

Decided January 2, 1940

308 U.S. 371


1. Bondholders of a state drainage district, who were parties to a proceeding under the Act of Congress of May 24, 1934, for a readjustment of its indebtedness, and who did not then question the constitutionality of that statute, but did not comply with the provisions of the decree for retirement of their bonds within a time limited, are estopped, by the principle of res judicata, from raising that question of constitutionality in a subsequent action on their bonds, notwithstanding that, in the meantime, in another case, coming from another district, this Court had declared the Act unconstitutional. Pp. 308 U. S. 374-375.

2. The lower federal courts, including the District Court sitting as a court of bankruptcy, though their jurisdiction is limited to that prescribed by Acts of Congress, are nevertheless courts with authority, when parties are brought before them in accordance with the requirements of due process, to determine whether or not they have jurisdiction to entertain the cause and for this purpose to construe and apply the statute under which they are asked to act. Their determinations of such questions, while open to direct review, may not be assailed collaterally. P. 308 U. S. 376.

3. Res judicata may be pleaded as a bar not only as respects matters actually presented to sustain or defeat the right asserted in the earlier proceedings, but also as respects any other available matter which might have been presented to that end. P. 308 U. S. 378.

103 F.2d 847 reversed.

Certiorari, post, p. 532, to review the affirmance of a judgment recovered in the District Court in an action on bonds of a drainage district.

Page 308 U. S. 372

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