Moments in Kentucky
Legislative History

Presented by the Kentucky Historical Society

Old Court—New Court Struggle

On December 24, 1824, the General Assembly passed “an Act to Repeal the Law Organizing the Court of Appeals, and to Reorganize the Court of Appeals.” This law resulted from a struggle between political factions supporting and opposing replevin laws that had previously been passed for the relief of debtors. The Kentucky Court of Appeals had declared many of the relief acts unconstitutional violations of the U.S. and Kentucky Constitutions, so a relief majority in the legislature sought to replace the judges who had made these decisions. A period of chaos followed this legislation, with two courts vying for authority. The issue was finally settled in 1826 when a newly elected Old Court majority in the General Assembly passed a bill that made all the New Court legislation void and reinstated the Old Court.

Judge Breaking cartoon

Judge Breaking. The anonymous satirist Hannibal Scratchi drew this circa-1825 cartoon poking fun at the fight over control of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the state’s highest judicial body. KHS Collections.

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