Blight's Lessee v. Rochester (1822)

Blight's Lessee v. Rochester (1822) 20 U.S. 535, arose in Kentucky, the question was not upon the construction of any statute, but related to the doctrine of estoppel, between vendor and vendee; and it was urged at the bar, that the question was settled by authority in Kentucky, and cases cited to establish the point. The authorities were examined, and considered by the Court as not deciding the question; but no intimation is given that they were inapplicable, because the question did not involve the construction of a statute. The Supreme Court said, "the title of the lessee is in fact the title of the lessor. He comes in by virtue of it, holds by virtue of it, and rests upon it to maintain and justify his position. He professes to have no independent right in himself, and it is a part of the very essence of the contract under which he claims that the paramount ownership of the lessor shall be acknowledged during the continuance of the lease, and that possession shall be surrendered at its expiration. He cannot be allowed to controvert the title of the lessor without disparaging his own, and he cannot set up the title of another without violating that contract by which he obtained and holds possession, and breaking that faith which he has pledged, and the obligation of which is still continuing and in full operation." And, in speaking in the same case of the relation between vendee and vendor, the Supreme Court added: "The vendee acquires the property for himself, and his faith is not pledged to maintain the title of the vendor. The rights of the vendor are intended to be extinguished by the sale, and he has no continuing interest in the maintenance of his title, unless he should be called upon in consequence of some covenant or warranty in his deed. The property having become by the sale the property of the vendee, he has a right to fortify that title by the purchase of any other which may protect him in the quiet enjoyment of the premises. No principle of morality restrains him from doing this, nor is either the letter or the spirit of the contract violated by it," (page 548.)