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Railroad Aid Bonds

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Washihgtoií, May 5. - The Supreme Court yesterday announced, araong other decisions, that of No. 295 ; The township of Pine Grove, plaintift' in error, vs. Edward B. Taleott, in error to the Circuit Court of the United States for thê Westera District of Michigan. Mr. Justice Swayne delivered the opinión of the court, affirming the judgment of said Circuit Court in this cause, with costs and interest. The decisión in this case rests upon the same grounds as in the case of Olcott vs. The Supervisors, 16th Wallace. [The case of Olcott vs. The Supervisors reterred to above was briefly this : The county of Pond du Lac, Wisconsin, under an act óf the Wisconsin Legislature of 1867, in 1869 issued bonds to aid in the completion of the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Railroad. In 1870 the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, in the case of Whiting vs. Fon du Lao county, held this act to be void for the reason that it authorized the levy of a tax for a private pur pose. Some of these bonds passed into the hands of Olcott, and he sued the supervisors of the county upon them in the United States Circuit Court. This court held the decisión of the Supreme Court to be binding upon the federal courts, and charged that the act under which the bonds were issued was void. Upon an appeal being taken to the United States Supreme Court the judgment of the court below was reversed. The grounds on which the decisión is based are that the United States Supreme Court is bound, by the decisions of the State courts only on local questions peculiar to themselves, or on questions respecting the construction of their own constitutions or laws. Whether ornot the construction of a railroad owned by a Corporation, and constructed and maintained under a Btatute of a State authorizing such construction and maintenance, is a matter in which the public has any interest of such a nature as to warrant taxation by a municipal división of ihe State in aid of it, is not such a question. It is one of general law. If a contract, when made, was valid under the constitution and laws. of a State, as they had been pteviously expounded by its judicial tribunals, and as they were understood at the time, no subsequent action by the Legislature or the judiciary will be regarded by the Supreme Court of the United States as establishing its invalidity. A railroad is a public highway. Being so, and thus a road for public use, a State may impose a tax in furtherance of that use, even though the road itself be built and owned by a private Corporation. On the above principies an act of a Legislature authorizing a vote of the people of a particular county upon the question of aiding a railroad, is held to be a proper exercise of legislativo authority, and if the people vote to authorize the bonds the countv is chareed on such bonds issued bv


Old News
Michigan Argus