Locke v. New Orleans,
71 U.S. 172 (1866)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Locke v. New Orleans, 71 U.S. 4 Wall. 172 172 (1866)

Locke v. New Orleans

71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 172


1. A statute which simply authorizes the imposition of a tax according to a previous assessment is not retrospective.

2. Every retrospective act is not necessarily an ex post facto law.

3. Such laws embrace only such as impose or affect penalties or forfeitures.

The Legislature of Louisiana enacted, A.D. 1850:

"That each of the municipalities of said city shall be and is hereby empowered to levy a tax on capital on the assessment roll for the year 1848, and a tax on capital on the assessment roll for the year 1849, provided that the taxes on capital on said assessment rolls for the years 1848 and 1849 shall not exceed the amounts already imposed by existing ordinances of the said municipalities."

Under the authority of this act, the City of New Orleans, having levied a tax on capital owned and employed during

Page 71 U. S. 173

the years mentioned by Locke, brought suit to enforce its payment. One defense set up was that the act was unconstitutional. The supreme court of the state having, on appeal from the district court, whose judgment it affirmed, decided that it was not, the case was now brought here for review.

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