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El Paso v. Simmons

Case Background, A Violation Of The Contract Clause Or A Lawful Remedy?


City of El Paso


Greenberry Simmons

Appellant's Claim

That the property in question was rightfully returned to the state of Texas after its forfeiture by Greenberry Simmons.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

William J. Mounce

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Greenberry Simmons

Justices for the Court

William J. Brennan, Jr., Tom C. Clark, William O. Douglas, Arthur Goldberg, John Marshall Harlan II, Potter Stewart, Earl Warren, Byron R. White (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Hugo Lafayette Black


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

18 January 1965


The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


The case of El Paso v. Simmons dealt with important constitutional issues concerning the Contract Clause of the Constitution, raising questions involving impairment of contracts, legislation affecting contracts, motives for modifying the obligation of a contract by a state, and the limit or extent of a state's power to do so.


The opinions of the case of El Paso v. Simmons have been cited in at least 15 U.S. Supreme Court cases, and three circuit Court cases; many involving the basic constitutional rights according to the Contract Clause of the Constitution. Contractual obligations affect the lives of almost every American, regardless of age or wealth.

Related Cases

  • Waggoner v. Flack, 188 U.S. 595 (1903).
  • Contributors to the Pennsylvania Hospital v. City of Philadelphia, 245 U.S. 20 (1917).
  • Aikins v. Kingsbury, 247 U.S. 484 (1918).
  • Home Building and Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398 (1934).
  • Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571 (1934).
  • Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726 (1963).

Further Readings

  • Cushman, Robert F. Cases in Constitutional Law, 7th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1989.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972