Fort Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe
Annotate this Case
114 U.S. 525 (1885)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Fort Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 525 (1885)
Fort Leavenworth Railroad Company v. Lowe
Argued April 9-10, 1885
Decided May 4, 1885
114 U.S. 525
When the United States acquires lands within the limits of a state by purchase, with the consent of the legislature of the state, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings, the Constitution confers upon them exclusive jurisdiction of the tract so acquired, but when they acquire such lands in any other way than by purchase with the consent of the legislature, their exclusive jurisdiction is confined to the erections, buildings, and land used for the public purposes of the federal government.
A state may for such purposes cede to the United States exclusive jurisdiction over a tract of land within its limits in a manner not provided for in the Constitution of the United States, and may prescribe conditions to the cession if they are not inconsistent with the effective use of the property for the purposes intended.
If a state thus ceding to the United States exclusive jurisdiction over a tract within its limits reserves to itself the right to tax private property therein and the United States does not dissent, its acceptance of the grant with the reservation will be presumed.
In the act admitting Kansas as a state, there was no reservation of federal jurisdiction over the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation. The State of Kansas subsequently ceded to the United States exclusive jurisdiction over the same "saving further to said state the right to tax railroad, bridge, or other corporations, their franchises and property on said reservation." Held that the property and franchises of a railroad company within the reservation were liable to pay taxes in the Kansas imposed according to its laws.
This was a suit at law brought by the plaintiff in error as plaintiff below in a district court of the State of Kansas to recover taxes imposed upon it and paid on its property within the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation. The defendant, Sheriff of the County of Leavenworth, demurred to the complaint. The demurrer was sustained by the district court, and the judgment thereon was affirmed by the supreme court of the state. This writ of error was brought to review that judgment. The facts which raise the federal question are stated in the opinion of the Court.