Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Chiles,
214 U.S. 274 (1909)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Chiles, 214 U.S. 274 (1909)

Western Union Telegraph Company v. Chiles

No. 168

Argued April 20, 1909

Decided May 24, 1909

214 U.S. 274


Where plaintiff in error, defendant below, in a suit for penalty under a state law, asks, and the court refuses, an instruction that, if the jury find that the default occurred within a navy yard, over which the United States had exclusive jurisdiction, the recovery could not be had under the state law, this Court has jurisdiction to review the judgment.

The Norfolk Navy Yard is one of the places over which, under Art. I, § 8, par. 17, of the Constitution, Congress possesses exclusive power of legislation, and that exclusive power necessarily includes exclusive jurisdiction, and it is of the highest importance that the jurisdiction of the state should be resisted at the border of such places. Fort Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe, 114 U. S. 525.

The state cannot inflict a penalty for the nondelivery of a telegram within the limits of a place under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and so held that, under the statute of Virginia in that regard, the penalty cannot be collected for the nondelivery of a telegram

Page 214 U. S. 275

to an addressee within the limits of the Norfolk Navy Yard.

Congress alone can prescribe penalties in such a case.

107 Va. 60 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

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