St. Louis v. United Railways Co.
210 U.S. 266 (1908)

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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Louis v. United Railways Co., 210 U.S. 266 (1908)

St. Louis v. United Railways Company

No 193-195

Argued March 20, 23, 1908

Decided May 18, 1908

210 U.S. 266


While a state, or a municipal corporation acting under the authority of the state, may deprive itself by contract of its lawful power to impose certain taxes or license fees, such deprivation only follows the use of clear and unambiguous terms; any doubt in the interpretation of the alleged contract is fatal to the exemption.

The fact that a street railway company has agreed to pay for the use of the streets of a city for a given period does not, in the absence of unequivocal terms to that effect, create an inviolable contract within the meaning and protection of the contract clause of the federal Constitution which will prevent the exaction of a license tax within the acknowledged power of the city. New Orleans City and Lake Railway Co. v. New Orleans, 143 U. S. 192.

The ordinances of the City of St. Louis granting rights of construction and operation to street railways involved in this case do not contain any clearly expressed obligation on the part of the city to surrender its right to impose further license or taxes upon street railway cars which is within the meaning and protection of the contract clause of the federal Constitution

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 210 U. S. 269

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