United States v. Klein
United States Supreme Court
80 U.S. 128 (1871)
In 1863, Congress adopted a statute providing that individuals whose property had been seized during the Civil War could recover their property or just compensation for it if they proved they had not assisted the Confederate army during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln then issued a proclamation offering a pardon to anyone who had fought for or supported the Confederate army, provided that person take an oath of allegiance to the Union. Following Congress’s act and the President’s proclamation, the United States Supreme Court held that a presidential pardon was sufficient proof that an individual had not assisted the Confederate army and was enough to justify a restoration of that person’s property rights. Based on the 1863 statute and the president’s proclamation, V.F. Wilson took the oath of allegiance and was pardoned. After Wilson’s death in 1865, the administrator of his estate, Klein (defendant), applied to the Court of Claims to recover compensation for property seized from Wilson during the Civil War. While Klein’s case was pending, Congress repealed its 1863 statute in 1867. The Court of Claims then decided in 1869 that Wilson’s estate was entitled to compensation for seized property based on his oath and presidential pardon. However, in 1870, Congress passed a new law that prohibited the use of a presidential pardon as proof that an individual was entitled to property rights or compensation. The law also said that acceptance of a presidential pardon, without a specific disclaimer of guilt, was conclusive evidence that the person did provide support to the Confederacy and thus made that person ineligible to recover property or compensation. Congress stated that if a person was ultimately found to support the Confederacy, the United States Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over an appeal of his or her denial of property rights from the Court of Claims. Based on this new law, the United States government (plaintiff) brought suit in the United States Supreme Court challenging the property rights given to Klein on the grounds that since Wilson accepted a presidential pardon, his estate was not entitled to property or sale proceeds.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chase, C.J.)
Dissent (Miller, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 168,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.