Hays v. Port of Seattle - 251 U.S. 233 (1920)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233 (1920)
Hays v. Port of Seattle
Argued November 12, 1919
Decided January 5, 1920
251 U.S. 233
A bill setting up obligations of a contract with a state and charging that they were impaired by subsequent state legislation held to present a controversy under the Constitution, conferring jurisdiction upon the district court and warranting a direct appeal under § 238, Jud.Code. P. 251 U. S. 237.
There is a distinction between a statute that has the effect of violating or repudiating a contract made by a state and one that impairs its obligation. Id.
Appellant contracted with the State of Washington to excavate certain waterways in Seattle Harbor for a certain compensation, using excavated material in filling in adjacent state lands, upon which he was to have a lien to secure the compensation; but, after long delays without substantial performance by the contractor, an act was passed to abandon the project and vest the title to the lands in a municipality. Held that the obligation of the contract was not thereby impaired. Id.
An appropriation of private property for a public purpose by an act of a state legislature is not violative of the Fourteenth Amendment if a general law permits the owner, upon giving security for costs, to sue the state in her courts and provides that any judgment for his damages and costs shall be paid out of the state treasury. P. 251 U. S. 238.
In the federal equity practice, the defense of laches need not be set up by plea or answer, but may be taken advantage of either by demurrer or upon final hearing. P. 251 U. S. 239.
226 F. 287 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.