Boston v. Jackson - 260 U.S. 309 (1922)


U.S. Supreme Court

Boston v. Jackson, 260 U.S. 309 (1922)

Boston v. Jackson

No. 141

Motion to dismiss or affirm submitted November 13, 1922

Decided December 4, 1922.

260 U.S. 309

Syllabus

1. Upon review here of a state judgment, an order of the state supreme court substituting the successor of a state official as a party is accepted as a conclusive determination that the state law authorized the substitution. P. 260 U. S. 313.

2. Where the state court justifiably construed the bill as standing for further relief after a particular tax, sought to be enjoined, had been collected and paid over, this Court will accept its view that the payment did not render the litigation moot. P. 260 U. S. 313.

3. Under paragraph 5 of Rule 6 of this Court, a judgment will be affirmed on motion when, in view of previous decisions, the questions presented by the plaintiff in error are so wanting in substance a not to need further argument. P. 260 U. S. 314.

Page 260 U. S. 310

4. Subways and tunnels constructed by the City of Boston under authority of a statute which declared them, with their rents and profits, to be held by the city in its private or proprietary capacity for its own property, never to be taken by the state without just compensation, were leased by the city for a long-term at a fixed rental to a railroad corporation serving that and other cities and towns. The company falling into financial difficulty, the legislature enacted a law under which, with the consent of the stockholders, the railroad, including the leased premises, was taken over by trustees who, under the law, repaired and operated the road, determining the needed expenditures, and fixed the fares to meet the cost of service, including taxes, rentals, interest on the company's indebtedness and dividends to its stockholders as fixed by the act. Payments necessary to meet deficits or diminution of reserve were to be made by the state, and the amounts assessed upon the several cities and towns, as an addition to the state tax, in proportion to the number of persons in each using the service, as determined by the trustees.

Held:

(a) That the statute did not impair the obligation of the city's contract of lease, since the lease was assignable and the statute provided for repairs, and payment of the rent, while the taxes authorized were not a diminution of the rent imposed on the city as a proprietor, but were state taxes, for a state purpose, as to which the city was but a collection agency. P. 260 U. S. 314.

(b) That, operation of the railroad by the state being authorized by the state constitution and laws, the delegation to the trustees of the power to determine expenditures and the imposition of taxes to pay deficits did not deprive the city of property without due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 260 U. S. 316.

5. Quaere whether a state may confer upon a subdivision, like a city, capacity to acquire property or contract rights protected under the federal Constitution against subsequent impairment by the state? P. 260 U. S. 316.

237 Mass. 403 affirmed.

Error to a decree of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts sustaining a demurrer to a bill brought by the City of Boston to enjoin a tax and for other relief, and dismissing it for want of equity.

Page 260 U. S. 311



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