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U.S. Supreme Court

Phillip Wagner, Inc. v. Baltimore, 239 U.S. 207 (1915)

Phillip Wagner, Inc. v. Baltimore

No. 28

Argued October 25, 26, 1915

Decided November 29, 1915

239 U.S. 207


The Fourteenth Amendment does not interfere with the discretionary power of the states to raise necessary revenues by imposing taxes and assessments within their jurisdiction; nor are general taxing systems to be presumed to be lacking in due process of law because of inequalities or objections so long as arbitrary action is avoided.

A state may, without violating the Fourteenth Amendment, exercise its authority to assess property on account of special benefit resulting from an improvement already made.

An assessment for improvements already made and paid for is not an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law because the amount when paid is to be used for other public purposes to which public funds are properly applicable.

Where the classification of property to be improved and the assessment are fixed by the statute itself and a specified sum fixed ratably chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 239 U. S. 208

according to area of the property, notice and hearing a to amount and extent of benefits are not required in the absence of abuse of power, in order to render such legislative action due process of law within the meaning of the federal Constitution. Spencer v.Merchant, 125 U. S. 345.

While constitutional protection against deprivation of property without due process of law is available to persons deprived of private rights by arbitrary state action, whether by legislative authority or otherwise, no such deprivation exists where, as in this case, there is no proof of disproportion between the assessment made and the benefit conferred showing arbitrary legislative action.

The Maryland Statutes of 1906 and 1908 providing for imposition of a special tax on property in Baltimore at a specified rate per square foot for a specified number of years for paving the streets of that city held not to be arbitrary and unconstitutional as depriving the owners of their property without due process of law.

120 Md. 671 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of a statute of Maryland and a tax levy thereunder on property in Baltimore for improving the paving of streets in that city, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 239 U. S. 211

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