Webster v. Fargo,
181 U.S. 394 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Webster v. Fargo, 181 U.S. 394 (1901)

Webster v. Fargo

No. 378

Argued and submitted February 27, 1901

Decided April 29, 1901

181 U.S. 394


It is within the power of the legislature of a state to create special taxing districts, and to charge the cost of local improvement, in whole or in part, upon the property in said districts, either according to valuation, or superficial area, or frontage, and it was not the intention of this Court, in Norwood v. Baker, 172 U. S. 269, to hold otherwise.

This was an action brought by Mortimer Webster in the District Court in and for the County of Cass and State of North Dakota against the City of Fargo; James M. Fargo, as Auditor of said city; D.C. Ross, as Treasurer, and G. J. Olson, as Auditor of Cass County, in which the plaintiff sought to enjoin the defendant from enforcing an assessment for grading and paving against certain lots or pieces of land belonging to the plaintiff, and abutting on the streets of the City of Fargo.

It was admitted and indeed alleged in the complaint that

"each and every of the acts and proceedings required to be done and taken by the statutes of said State of North Dakota in making and return of said assessment, as aforesaid were duly taken and done,"

but it was alleged that the state statutes under which the work was done and the assessment made were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in that they prescribed for paying for grading and paving the streets by an assessment upon abutting lots by the foot front rule.

The defendants demurred to the complaint upon the ground that it did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The trial court sustained the demurrer, and, as the plaintiff declined to amend, entered a judgment dismissing the complaint. From this judgment an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota, which court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint. A writ of error from this Court was thereupon allowed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of North Dakota.

Page 181 U. S. 395

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