California v. Central Pacific R. Co.
127 U.S. 1 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

California v. Central Pacific R. Co., 127 U.S. 1 (1888)

California v. Central Pacific Railroad Company

Nos. 660-664, 1157

Argued January 11-13, 1888

Decided April 30, 1888

127 U.S. 1

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Syllabus

By the Constitution of California, two modes of assessment for taxation are prescribed -- one by a State Board of Equalization, the other by county boards and local assessors. All property is directed to be assessed in the county, city, etc., in which it is situated except that the franchise, roadway, roadbed, rails, and rolling stock of any railroad operated in more than one county are to be assessed by the state board and apportioned to the several counties, etc. By an act of the legislature, the state board is required to include in their assessment steamers engaged in transporting passengers and freights across waters which divide a railroad. This act was held by the Supreme Court of California, in San Francisco v. Central Pacific Railroad Co., 63 Cal. 469, to be contrary to the constitution, and steamboats were held to be assessable by the county

Page 127 U. S. 2

board, and not by the state board. This Court, following that decision and that of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co.,118 U. S. 394, holds that the assessment of the steamers of a railroad company by the state board is in violation of the Constitution of California and void, and, being inseparably blended with the other property assessed, it makes the whole assessment void.

The State Board of Equalization of California having included in their assessment all the franchises of a railroad company, amongst which were franchises conferred by the United states, of constructing a railroad from the Pacific Ocean across the state as well as across the territories of the United States, and of taking toll thereon, held that the assessment of these franchises was repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States and the power given to Congress to regulate commerce among the several states.

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