Dixon County v. Field
111 U.S. 83 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dixon County v. Field, 111 U.S. 83 (1884)

Dixon County v. Field

Submitted January 2, 1884

Decided March 4, 1884

111 U.S. 83

Syllabus

There must be authority of law, by statute, for every issue of bonds of a municipal corporation as a gift to a railroad or other work of internal improvement.

When the constitution or a statute of a state requires as essential to the validity of municipal bonds that they shall be registered in a state registry and receive by endorsement a certificate of one or more state officers showing that they are issued in pursuance of law, and the constitution or law gives no conclusive effect to such registration or to such certificate, the municipality is not concluded by the certificate from denying the facts certified to.

A recital in a municipal bond of facts which the corporate officers had authority by law to determine and to certify estops the corporation from denying those facts: but a recital there of facts which the corporate officers had no authority to determine, or a recital of matters of law, does not estop the corporation.

Section 2, Article XII, of the Constitution of Nebraska, which took effect November 1, 1875, conferred no power upon a county to add to its authorized or existing indebtedness, without express legislative authority; but it limited the power of the legislature in that respect by fixing the terms and conditions on which alone it was at liberty to authorize the creation of municipal indebtedness.

Page 111 U. S. 84

This was a suit to recover the amount of overdue interest coupons on bonds issued by the plaintiff in error in aid of a railroad. The defense was that the bonds were issued in violation of provisions of the Constitution of Nebraska which are set forth in the opinion of the Court, and without legislative authority. The holder of the bonds contended that the municipality was estopped from setting up this defense by reason of certain recitals in the bonds and of certain certificates of state officers on the back of them, which are also referred to in the opinion. The judgment below was against the county. This writ of error was sued out to review the judgment.

Page 111 U. S. 85

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