Gilman v. City of Sheboygan
67 U.S. 510 (1862)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gilman v. City of Sheboygan, 67 U.S. 2 Black 510 510 (1862)

Gilman v. City of Sheboygan

67 U.S. (2 Black) 510

Syllabus

1. Where a state Legislature authorizes a city to borrow money, issue bonds and tax all the property in the city to pay it, this is not a contract with the bondholders, that the state shall not afterwards exercise her power to modify the taxation or exempt portions of the property from taxation.

2. The fact that a state, by an act of her legislature, has stripped herself of any portion of her sovereignty is not to be assumed unless the language used is too clear to admit of doubt.

3. If such a contract existed and if a subsequent law exempted some portion of the property, it does not lie in the mouth of a property holder in the city to complain of it on the score of bad faith to the bondholders if the bondholders themselves are silent.

4. A law authorizing a public corporation to contract a debt and pay it by means of a tax is not liable to the objection that it takes private property for public purposes without compensation, for that clause of the Constitution is a limitation not on the taxing power, but on the right of eminent domain.

5. The levying of taxes by a public corporation under the authority of state law is the exercise of the taxing power as much as the taxation of the citizens directly for the support of the state government.

6. The Constitution of Wisconsin requires the rule of taxation to be uniform, and this means, that all kinds of property not absolutely exempt must be taxed alike, by the same standard of valuation, equally with other taxable property, and coextensively with the territory to which it applies.

7. A tax for a special purpose upon the City of Sheboygan and levied exclusively upon real property was a discrimination in favor personal property, in conflict with the constitution or the state, and therefore void.

Page 67 U. S. 511

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