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Henderson Bridge Co. v. Henderson City, 141 U.S. 679 (1891)

Henderson Bridge Company v. Henderson City

No. 1007

Submitted November 23, 1891

Decided December 7, 1891

141 U.S. 679


In a suit brought in a state court of Kentucky by the City of Henderson against the Henderson Bridge Company to recover for taxes assessed by the city on the bridge of the company, which spanned the Ohio River at the city, the Court of Appeals of the state held that the city, as a taxing district, could tax the property of the company, and that, under an ordinance of the city, accepted by the company, the city acquired a contract right to tax the bridge to low water mark on the Indiana shore, it being within the city limits, in consideration of rights and privileges granted to the company by the ordinance. On a motion to dismiss a writ of error from this Court, sued out by the company:

Held that although it was claimed in the pleadings by the company that the taxing ordinance impaired the obligation of a prior contract with the company, yet as the decision of the Court of Appeals was based wholly on the ground that the proper interpretation of the ordinance first above referred to was that the company voluntarily agreed that the bridge should be liable to taxation, and that did not involve a federal question, and was broad enough to dispose of the case without reference to any federal question, and this Court could not review the construction which was given by the state court to the ordinance as a contract in view of the Constitution and laws of Kentucky, the writ of error must be dismissed.

Held also that the taxation of the bridge was not a regulation of commerce among the states or the taxation of any agency of the federal government.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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