Railroad Company v. Rock
71 U.S. 177 (1866)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Railroad Company v. Rock, 71 U.S. 4 Wall. 177 177 (1866)

Railroad Company v. Rock

71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 177

Syllabus

l. In a case brought here from a state court under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, the record must show that some one of the matters mentioned in that section was necessarily decided by the court, notwithstanding there may be a certificate from the presiding judge that such matters were drawn in question.

2. If it appears from the record that the state court might have decided the case on some other ground, this Court has no jurisdiction.

3. This Court cannot review the decision of a state court upon the general ground that that court has declared a contract void which this Court may think to be valid.

4. It must be the Constitution or some statute of the state which impairs the obligation of the contract or which is otherwise in conflict with the Constitution or laws of the United States, and the decision of the state court must sustain the law of the state in the matter in which this conflict is supposed to exist, or the case for this Court does not arise.

This was a motion by Mr. Templin to dismiss a writ of error to the Supreme Court of Iowa, issued under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, which gives authority to the Supreme Court of the United States to review final judgments in the highest court of a state

"where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of or an authority exercised under any state on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution of the United States and the decision is in favor of such validity, or where is drawn in question the construction of any clause of the Constitution &c., of the United States and the decision is against the title, right &c., specially set up or claimed under such clause."

The case was thus:

Rock, on behalf of himself and the other resident taxpayers of Iowa County, filed his bill in the proper state court against the Missouri & Mississippi Railroad Company, plaintiff in error, and Wallace, county judge of the said county. He prayed that certain bonds, purporting to be the bonds of the County of Iowa, which he alleged to be then in the possession of the plaintiff in error should be declared void and that plaintiff should be enjoined from negotiating them, and that the county judge should be enjoined

Page 71 U. S. 178

from levying or collecting any tax to pay said bonds or the interest on them.

The bill of complainant asked for relief on two grounds:

1. That the county judge disregarded the requirements of a certain statute set forth in the bill in the submission to the vote of the people of the question of issuing the bonds.

2. That the county judge and the Railroad Company, to whom they were first issued, were guilty of fraud in the issue of the bonds.

The court decreed as prayed by Rock, and the Railroad Company appealed to the Supreme Court of Iowa, which affirmed that decree.

More than two years after this affirmance, the chief justice of that court certified that, upon the hearing in that case, there was drawn in question:

1. The validity of the Constitution of the state of Iowa as being repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

2. That clause of the Constitution of the United States which provides that no state shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts.

3. That clause of the Constitution of the United States which provides that said Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land.

And it was further certified that the decision was against the right claimed under the Constitution of the United States and the several clauses thereof.

The ground of the motion made to dismiss was that it nowhere appeared by the record that the question of the repugnancy of the laws and Constitution of Iowa to the Constitution and laws of the United States was passed upon, and that the certificate of the judge would not of itself conclude the court on that matter.

Page 71 U. S. 180

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.