Loyalty on Trial
Warren Gentry directs Loyalty on Trial.
"It's not every
day that you
celebrate a 150th
A videotape (27:00) produced by
the UNC School of Law in celebra-
tion of its Sesquicentennial.
It documents Bayard v Singleton,
a NC Superior Court case decided in
1787, which is the first reported
instance of a U. S. court voiding an
act of legislature as unconstitutional.
Videos avaJable for $23.00 (includes
$3.00 shipping) each. Send checks
payable to UNC School 0/Law, to
Alumni Office, UNC School of Law,
CB #3380, Chapel HJl, NC
Copies of the Sesquicentennial issue
of the North Carolina Law Review
also for sale. Call (919) 549-4403
Confiscation Act of 1777, citizens who
refused to swear loyalty to the state were
stripped of their legal rights and given 30
days to sell their property, after whicb it
was subject to seizure.
Cornell, a British loyalist, refused to make
the pledge in North Carolina and fled to
England before returning with the king's
troops to his family's home in N ew York.
Meanwhile, the N.C. General Assembly
confiscated his land totaling thousands of
acres and began to sell it off to help finance
Years later, after the war, Cornell's daugh-
ter, Elizabeth Bayard, traveled to North
Carolina to reclaim her family's property.
She filed suit against Spyers Singleton, a
New Bern merchant who had purchased
Cornell's house and some land, and insisted
that tbe 1.776 N.C. Constitution gave her
the absolute light to a jury trial of her claim.
When the General Assembly enacted a
law ordering the state's judges to dismiss all
Law school dean Judith Wegner. UNC Nt'IIIS Scm;ccs
such "vexatious" lawsuits without a trial, a
philosophical collision occurred that was
similarly argued before the U.S. Supreme
Court in the landmark Ma rbl/ ry v. Mad ison
case in 1803.
The issue was revolutionary: Can a
judge or a court strike down an act of the
legislature as contrary to the constitutional
scheme of government, or should the legis-
lature, as the enactors of the law and the
representatives of the people, get the final
say in the nutter?
When the court overruled the legislature
and granted Bayard the right to a jury trial,
it literally made history. Although historians
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