Williams v. Wingo - 177 U.S. 601 (1900)
U.S. Supreme Court
Williams v. Wingo, 177 U.S. 601 (1900)
Williams v. Wingo
Argued April 11-12, 1900
Decided May 14, 1900
177 U.S. 601
The act of the Legislature of Virginia of March 5, 1840, providing that
"it shall not be lawful for the court of any county to grant leave to establish a ferry over any watercourse within one-half mile, in a direct line, of any other ferry legally established over the same watercourse"
was one of general legislation, and subject to repeal by the general assembly, and did not tie the hands of the legislature or prevent it from authorizing another ferry within a half mile whenever in its judgment it saw fit.
By the statutes of Virginia, authority was given to the county courts of the several counties to license ferries. By an Act passed March 5, 1840 (Acts Assembly 1839-1840, p. 58), carried, with simply verbal changes, into c. 64 of the Code of Virginia of 1873 as sec. 23, and subsequently into c. 62 of the Code of 1887 as sec. 1386, it was provided:
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly that it shall not be lawful for the court of any county to grant leave to establish a ferry over any watercourse within one-half mile, in a direct line, of any other ferry legally established over the same watercourse."
In 1880, the County Court of Giles County gave to the plaintiff in error a license to maintain a ferry across New River. On March 5, 1894, the General Assembly of Virginia passed the following act (Acts Assembly 1893-1894, p. 789, c. 692):
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia that it shall be lawful for the County Court of Giles County to establish a ferry at a point on New River in said county at a point around Egglestons Springs depot and between Egglestons Springs and Egglestons depot, on the New River branch of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, Giles County, Virginia. Said court, in establishing said ferry, shall be bound by sections thirteen hundred and seventy-five, thirteen hundred and seventy-six, thirteen hundred
and seventy-seven, thirteen hundred and seventy-eight, thirteen hundred and seventy-nine, thirteen hundred and eighty, thirteen hundred and eighty-one, thirteen hundred and eighty-two, thirteen hundred and eighty-three, thirteen hundred and eighty-four, and thirteen hundred and eighty-five of the Code of Virginia; but section thirteen hundred and eighty-six of said code, so far as the distance of one-half a mile is concerned, shall not apply to the establishment of said ferry at said place."
Under this act, a license was given to the defendant in error to establish a ferry within less than half a mile of the ferry established by the plaintiff in error under his prior license. The rightfulness of this action was sustained by the circuit court of Giles County, and subsequently by the Supreme Court of Appeals of the State of Virginia, and to review such decision this writ of error was brought.