Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Kentucky,
183 U.S. 503 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Kentucky, 183 U.S. 503 (1902)

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company v. Kentucky

No. 7

Argued November 9, 1900

Decided January 6, 1902

183 U.S. 503


The question of the validity of the Constitution and laws of Kentucky, under which these proceedings were had, is properly before the Court, whose consideration of it must, however, be restricted to its federal aspect.

This Court must accept the meaning of the state enactments to be that found in them by the state courts.

A state railroad corporation, voluntarily formed, cannot exempt itself from the control reserved to the state by its constitution, and, if not protected by a valid contract, cannot successfully invoke the interposition of federal courts, in respect to long haul and short haul clauses in a state constitution simply on the ground that the railroad is property.

A contract of exemption from future general legislation unless it is given expressly or follows by implication equally clear with express words, cannot be deemed to exist.

A railroad charter is taken and held subject to the power of the state to regulate and control the grant in the interest of the public.

Interference with the commercial power of the general government, to be unlawful, must be direct.

At the January term, 1895, of the Marion County Circuit Court of the State of Kentucky, an indictment was found against the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, a corporation of the State of Kentucky, for an alleged violation of section 218 of the constitution of the state, and section 820 of the Kentucky Statutes, in charging more for the transportation of coal from Altamont, Kentucky, to Lebanon, Kentucky, than to Louisville and Elizabethtown, Kentucky, over railroads which the company were operating under its charter. The indictment alleged that it was filed upon the recommendation of the state railroad commission. The trial resulted in a judgment of conviction and a fine of $300, which, on appeal, was, on May 20, 1899, affirmed by the Court of Appeals. From that judgment of the Court of Appeals a writ of error was allowed by the chief justice of that court on June 28, 1899, and the case was brought to this Court.

Page 183 U. S. 504

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