Citation. Foster v. Neilson, 27 U.S. 253, 7 L. Ed. 415, 1829)
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Brief Fact Summary.
The claim which Foster (P) and Elam brought before the court was that a tract of land in Louisiana had been granted to them by the Spanish governor.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A treaty cannot be considered law in a situation where the terms of the treaty requires a legislative act until such a time when the legislature ratifies and confirms the terms.
Foster (P) and Elam sought to recover a parcel of land in Louisiana which the Spanish governor had granted them. Neilson (D) successfully argued that the grant was null and void because it was made subsequent to the transfer to France and the U.S of the territory on which the land was situated. The plaintiffs however relied on the treaty between the U.S and Spain which stipulated that all grants of lands made by Spain would be ratified by the U.S. the case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court on a writ of error.
When the terms of a treaty requires a legislature act, can the treaty be considered law before such time as the legislature ratifies and confirms the terms?
(Marshall, C.J). No. A treaty cannot be considered law in a situation where the terms of the treaty requires a legislative act until such a time when the legislature ratifies and confirms the terms. The treaty does not operate in itself to ratify or confirm title in land. The legislature must act before the terms of the contract are binding. Affirmed.
Some international agreements are self-executing while others are not. The court must however take a stand as to whether an agreement is to be given effect without further legislature.