Guy v. Baltimore
100 U.S. 434

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U.S. Supreme Court

Guy v. Baltimore, 100 U.S. 434 (1879)

Guy v. Baltimore

100 U.S. 434

Syllabus

1. A state cannot, in the exercise of her taxing power, impose upon the products of another state, brought within her limits for sale or use, a more onerous burden or tax than upon like products of its own territory, nor discriminate against a citizen by reason of his being engaged in thus bringing or in selling them.

2. An ordinance of Baltimore, whereunder vessels laden with the products of other states, are required to pay for the use of the public wharves of that city, fees which are not exacted from vessels landing thereat with the products of Maryland, is in conflict with the Constitution of the United states.

3. Such fees, so exacted, must be regarded not as a compensation for the use of the city's property, but as a mere expedient or device to foster the domestic commerce of Maryland by means of unequal and oppressive burdens upon the industry and business of other states.

4. So far as it may be necessary to protect the products of other states and countries from discrimination by reason of their foreign origin, the power of the national government over commerce with foreign nations and among the several states reaches the interior of every state of the Union.

Section 4 of an Act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, chapter 162, entitled "An Act to appoint state wharfingers in the City of Baltimore, and to authorize the collection of wharfage in certain cases in said city" (Maryland Code of Public Local Laws, art. 4, sec. 945), provides as follows:

"The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore shall be, and they are hereby, empowered and authorized to regulate, establish, charge and collect, to the use of the said mayor and city council, such rate of wharfage as they may think reasonable, of and from all vessels resorting to or lying at, landing, depositing, or transporting goods or articles other than the productions of this state, on any wharf or wharves belonging to said mayor and city council, or any public wharf in the said city, other than the wharves belonging to or rented by the state."

Pursuant to the authority conferred by said act, the mayor and city council, on July 27, 1858, passed an ordinance "to regulate the public wharves in the City of Baltimore," the provisions of which, as found in the thirty-third and thirty-fifth sections of art. 22 in the Baltimore City Code, are as follows:

Page 100 U. S. 435

"SEC. 33. All goods, wares, or merchandise, landed on the public wharves from on board of any vessel or vessels lying at said wharves . . . shall pay the following rates of wharfage for each and every day the same may remain thereon . . . to be paid by the owner or consignee, or in the event of there being none, the master of the vessel, and all goods shipped from one vessel to another, one-half to be paid by the shipper, bags of coffee, ginger, pepper, or any other articles in similar bags, each one cent; bales of merchandise, . . . &c., each four cents; barrels of every description containing merchandise or otherwise, each two cents; boxes of sugar, . . . &c., each three cents; . . . grain per bushel, and all other articles sold by the bushel, other than the product of the state of Maryland, one-half cent; grindstones, each one cent,"

&c., "all other goods not enumerated in the above list to pay in proportion."

"SEC. 35. All vessels resorting to or lying at, landing, depositing or transporting goods or articles other than the production of this state, on or from any wharf or wharves belonging to the mayor and city council, or any public wharf in the said city, other than the wharves belonging to or rented by the state, shall be chargeable with the wharfage as fixed by this ordinance, upon all goods or articles landed or deposited on any wharf or wharves belonging to the said mayor and city council; and the master or owner of the vessel so depositing, landing, or transporting said goods or articles, shall be responsible for the same."

The Act of the General Assembly of 1860, chapter 226, Code of Public General Laws, art. 96, sec. 18, requires potatoes to be sold in the State of Maryland "by weight, at the rate of fifty-six pounds to the bushel," under penalty of a fine of ten dollars.

Sect. 6 Revised Ordinances of 1858, Baltimore City Code, art. 22, sec. 10, is as follows:

"It shall not be lawful for any vessel landing or receiving cargo at any of the wharves within the limits of the city, which is required to pay wharfage on cargo or vessel to the harbor masters of the City of Baltimore, to leave the wharf where said vessel receives or discharges her cargo, without furnishing said harbor master, upon application, with his manifest or bills of lading of cargo, and paying the wharfage on the same, under a penalty of $20, to be collected, as other debts are collected, from the captain, commander, owner, or consignees of said vessels so offending. "

Page 100 U. S. 436

In June, 1876, Edward T. Guy, a resident in and citizen of the County of Accomac, in the State of Virginia, arrived at the City of Baltimore with the schooner George S. Powell, of which he was captain and part owner, laden with a cargo of potatoes raised and produced in the State of Virginia, and landed said cargo, amounting to two hundred and twenty bushels, on Pratt Street wharf, belonging to said city, not "that part of Pratt Street wharf reserved." Thereupon the harbormaster demanded of him the sum of $4.40 wharfage upon said potatoes so landed; and payment thereof being refused, the City of Baltimore brought this action of debt, to recover the penalty of $20, imposed by art. 22, sec. 10, of the city code, supra. The defendant appeared, and judgment for $20 penalty and costs having been rendered against him, he appealed to the Baltimore City Court, at the trial wherein he prayed the court to grant, as the law of the case, the following propositions:

1st, that the Act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sec. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are repugnant to the third clause of the eighth section of art. 1 of the Constitution of the United states, and unlawful.

2d, that the Act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sec. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are repugnant to the second clause of the tenth section of art. 1 of the Constitution of the United states, and unlawful.

3d, that the Act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sec. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are an infringement upon the rights, privileges, and immunities of the appellant, claimed under the first clause of the second section of art. 4 of the Constitution of the United states, and are unlawful.

The court having refused to grant said propositions and affirmed the judgment below, Guy sued out this writ of error.

Page 100 U. S. 437

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