Mere breach of contract on the part of state officers does not
amount to a taking of plaintiff's property without due process of
law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Where the allegation of the bill relied on to give jurisdiction
shows mere breach of contract on the part of state officers, the
case does not present a real and substantial controversy involving
the construction or effect. of the federal Constitution, and the
district court does not have jurisdiction on that ground.
The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district court
of the United States in cases involving constitutional questions,
are stated in the opinion.
Page 239 U. S. 32
Memorandum opinion by MR. JUSTICE DAY, by direction of the
This case was begun in the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of Florida upon a bill praying to have
the title to certain lands decreed to be held in trust for
complainants by the board of trustees of the Internal Improvement
Fund of Florida, and to recover lands deeded to others, but
likewise held in trust for complainants. The court below dismissed
the bill for want of jurisdiction.
An examination of the bill shows that the ground of recovery
rests upon the allegation that the trustees contracted to convey
the lands in question to the complainants, and afterwards, by
formal resolution, the board repudiated its former action and
refused to recognize the alleged trust, and declared the
complainants' title null and void. Complainants contend that this
action by the trustees, as an agency of the state, in repudiation
of its former action, and the conveyance of part of the land to
others, in violation of the trust, constituted a taking of its
property without due process of law, in violation of the provisions
of the Fourteenth Amendment. This is the only ground of federal
jurisdiction insisted upon.
The case presented no real and substantial controversy involving
the construction or effect of the federal Constitution. The
allegations relied upon to give jurisdiction show a breach of
contract merely, and bring the case within the principles decided
by this Court in St. Paul Gas
Page 239 U. S. 33
Co. v. St. Paul, 181 U. S. 142
Dawson v. Columbia Avenue &c. Co., 197 U.
; Shawnee Sewerage Co. v. Stearns,
220 U. S. 462
McCormick v. Oklahoma City, 236 U.