Myles Salt Co., Ltd v. Iberia Drainage Dist. - 239 U.S. 478 (1916)
U.S. Supreme Court
Myles Salt Co., Ltd v. Iberia Drainage Dist., 239 U.S. 478 (1916)
Myles Salt Company, Limited v.
Iberia & St. Mary Drainage District
Argued December 16, 1915
Decided January 10, 1916
239 U.S. 478
The legislature of a state may constitute drainage districts and define their boundaries, or may delegate such authority to local administrative bodies, and such action, unless palpably arbitrary and a plain abuse, does not violate the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. Houck v. Little River District, ante, p. 239 U. S. 254.
Action of the local administrative body in including land within a drainage district which is palpably arbitrary, such inclusion not being for the purpose of benefiting such land directly, but for the purpose of obtaining revenue therefrom, amounts to deprivation of property without due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Although, under the law of Louisiana, the action of the police jury in determining, in the exercise of its discretion, what property shall be included in a drainage district cannot be inquired into except upon a special averment of fraud, one not charging fraud or attacking the statute of the state may attack the law as administered as depriving him of his property without due process of law by the inclusion within a drainage district of property in no wise benefited by the proposed system, and thus raise a federal question, giving this Court the right under § 237, Jud.Code, to review an adverse decision.
Power arbitrarily exerted, imposing a burden without a compensating advantage of any kind, amounts to confiscation and violates the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The facts, which involve the validity under the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of the action of a police jury in Louisiana establishing a drainage district and including property therein not benefited by the drainage system, are stated in the opinion.