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CHICAGO, B. & Q. R. CO. V. CHICAGO, 166 U. S. 226 (1897)

U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226 (1897)

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. Chicago

No. 129

Argued November 6, 9, 1896

Decided March 1, 1897

166 U.S. 226


This court has authority to reexamine the final judgment of the highest court of a State, rendered in a proceeding to condemn private property for public use, in which, after verdict, a defendant assigned as a ground for new trial that the statute under which the case was instituted and the proceedings under it were in violation of the clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbidding a State to deprive any person of property without due process of law, and which ground of objection was repeated in the highest court of the State, provided the judgment of the court, by its necessary operation, was adverse to the claim of Federal right and could not rest upon any independent ground of local law.

The prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment refer to all the instrumentalities of the State, to its legislative, executive aud judicial authorities, and, therefore, whoever, by virtue of public position under a state government deprives another of any right protected by that amendment against deprivation by the State violates the constitutional inhibition; and, as he acts in the name and for the State, and is clothed with the State's power, his act is that of the State.

The contention that the defendant has been deprived of property without due process of law is not entirely met by the suggestion that he had due notice of the proceedings for condemnation, appeared, and was admitted to make defence. The judicial authorities of a State may keep within the letter of the statute prescribing forms of procedure in the courts and give the parties interested the fullest opportunity to be heard, and yet it might be that its action would be inconsistent with that amendment.

A judgment of a state court, even if authorized by statute, whereby private property is taken for public use, without compensation made or secured to the owner, is, upon principle and authority, wanting in the due process of law required by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

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