Henderson Bridge Co. v. Henderson City
Annotate this Case
173 U.S. 592 (1899)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Henderson Bridge Co. v. Henderson City, 173 U.S. 592 (1899)
Henderson Bridge Company v. Henderson City
Argued May 6, 9, 1898
Decided April 8, 1899
173 U.S. 592
This Court has jurisdiction to review the final judgment of the state court in this case for the purpose of ascertaining whether it deprived the defendants of any right, privilege or immunity set up by them under the Constitution of the United States.
The City of Henderson had authority to tax so much of the property of the Henderson Bridge Company as was permanently between low water mark on the Kentucky shore and low water mark on the Indiana shore of the Ohio River, it being settled that the boundary of Kentucky extends to low water mark on the Indiana shore.
The declaration of the state court that Kentucky intended by its legislation to confer upon the City of Henderson a power of taxation for local purposes coextensive with its statutory boundary is binding in this Court.
In order to bring taxation imposed by a state within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment of the National Constitution, the case should be so clearly and palpably an illegal encroachment upon private rights as to leave no doubt that such taxation, by its necessary operation, is really spoliation under the guise of exerting the power to tax.
The taxation by the city, as property of the Bridge Company, of the bridge and its appurtenances within the fixed boundary of the city between low water mark on the two sides of the Ohio River was not a taking of private property for public use without just compensation in violation of the Constitution of the United States.
The Bridge Company did not acquire by contract an exemption from local taxation in respect of its bridge situated between low water mark on the two shores of the Ohio River.
The provision in the city's charter that
"no land embraced within the city's limits, and outside of ten-acre lots as originally laid off shall be assessed and taxed by the city council unless the same is divided or laid out into lots of five acres or less and unless the same is actually used and devoted to farming purposes"
has no reference to bridges, their approaches, piers, etc.
The power of Kentucky to tax this bridge is not affected by the fact that it was erected under the authority or with the consent of Congress.
The statement of the case will be found in the opinion of