Antoni v. Greenhow,
107 U.S. 769 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Antoni v. Greenhow, 107 U.S. 769 (1883)

Antoni v. Greenhow

Decided March 5, 1883

107 U.S. 769


1. By issuing, pursuant to her "Funding Act" of March 30, 1871, her bonds with interest coupons thereto attached, the State of Virginia entered into a valid contract with every holder of the coupons, whereby she bound herself to receive them at and after their maturity for all taxes and demands due the state. So much of any enactment as forbids the receipt of the coupons for such taxes and demands impairs the obligation of the contract, and is void.

2. When the coupons were issued, the holder of them could, by the then existing law of the state as interpreted by her court of last resort, enforce his right under the contract by suing out of that court a mandamus compelling the receipt of them by the proper tax collector, who had refused to accept them when duly offered in payment of state taxes, and the plaintiff, if on the return to the writ judgment was rendered in his favor, could furthermore recover his costs with such damages as a jury might assess, and have forthwith a peremptory writ. By sec. 4 of an Act passed Jan. 14, 1882, post, p. 107 U. S. 771, when in such a case a mandamus is prayed for against the collector, the law imposes upon him as a duty to answer that he is ready to receive the offered coupon as soon as it shall be ascertained to be genuine and legally receivable for taxes. The taxpayer is then required to pay his taxes in lawful money, and file his coupon in the Court of Appeals, by which it is forwarded to the county court of the county or to the hustings court of the city where the taxes are payable with directions to frame an issue as to whether it is genuine and legally receivable for taxes. Each party is entitled to exceptions and an appeal. If the issue is found for the petitioner, a mandamus is issued, and the money he paid is to be refunded to him out of the state treasury in preference to all other claims. Held that said sec. 4 furnishes an adequate and efficacious remedy substantially equivalent to that which existed at the date when the coupons were issued whereby the rights of the holder of them, in case the collector refuses to receive them for taxes, can be maintained and enforced, and that the obligation of his contract with the state is not thereby impaired.

Page 107 U. S. 770

3. The Court does not decide whether the act of the legislature, post, p. 107 U. S. 773, approved April 7, 1882, after this suit was brought, repeals said sec. 4 of the Act of Jan. 14, 1882, but holds that if such is its effect, the remedy of the taxpayer is not rendered less efficient, inasmuch as the remaining sections furnish a proceeding which is an exact equivalent of that by mandamus, the real matter submitted for determination being whether his coupon ought to have been received in payment of his taxes, and if the issue is found for him, the provision is, without further legislative action, sufficient to authorize and require that the money which he deposited for that purpose shall be refunded to him from the state treasury.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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