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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Louis & Kansas City Land Co. v. Kansas City, 241 U.S. 419 (1916)

St. Louis & Kansas City Land Company v. Kansas City

No. 261

Argued March 7, 1916

Decided June 5, 1916

241 U.S. 419


The extent of the authority conferred upon a city by its charter, the construction of such charter, and the validity, scope and effect of ordinances adopted by the city and of proceedings thereunder and the rights of parties thereto under state law, are matters of state law as to which the decision of the state court is controlling.

A ruling as to the effect, with respect to supplemental proceeding, of the decree in a court of the same state holding a prior assessment void as to certain parties for want of required notice, does not present a federal question.

An owner of property which may be assessed for benefits in order to pay an award for property condemned is not entitled, under the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, to be made a party to the condemnation proceeding or to be heard as to the amount of the awards; due process of law requires only those whose property is to be taken for public improvement to have prior notice.

The question under the Fourteenth Amendment is one of state power, and not of state policy; of what the state must accord, not what it may grant or withhold in its discretion.

Differences due to voluntary action and diverse individual choice may arise under equal laws and not amount to denial of equal protection of the law within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

While all taxes and assessments are necessarily laid by some rule of apportionment, and a scheme of distribution which is palpably arbitrary and constitutes a plain abuse may be condemned as violating the Fourteenth Amendment, the mere fact that there may be inequalities is not enough to invalidate the action of a state.

Where assessments are made by a political subdivision according to special benefits, the property owner is entitled to be heard as to the amount of his assessment and all matters properly entering into that determination, but he is not entitled to be heard not only as to the assessment on his property, but also as to the assessments on all other property owners. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 241 U. S. 420

Where a state statute provides for a supplemental proceeding to correct errors in an assessment proceeding, nothing in the federal Constitution prevents the inclusion in the supplemental proceeding of properties omitted from the original proceeding.

The Seventh Amendment has no application to an assessment or condemnation proceeding in a state court.

260 Mo. 395 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of proceedings for condemnation of land for a street widening and assessments for benefits in Kansas City, Missouri, are stated in the opinion.

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