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the law of the State was an element in the decisions of the state tribunals and its constitutionality was sustained against the attacks of the railway company. The question is, therefore, presented for our consideration. In its consideration we need not descant upon the extent of the police power of the State and the limitations upon it when it encounters the powers conferred upon the National Government. There is pertinent exposition of these in Southern Railway Co. v. King, 217 U. S. 524, in which the law now under review was passed upon. The case is clear as to the relation of the powers and that the power of the State cannot be exercised to directly burden interstate commerce. It was recognized that there might be crossings the approach to which the State could regulate. But, on the other hand, it was said there might be others so numerous and so near together that to require the slackening of speed would be practically destructive of the successful operation of interstate passenger trains, and, therefore, "statutes which require the speed of such trains to be checked at all crossings so situated might not only be a regulation, but also a direct burden upon interstate commerce, and therefore beyond the power of the State to enact."
That case went off on a question of pleading. An'answer was filed that did not invoke the Federal Constitution. This was attempted to be done by an amended answer which was very general and to which a demurrer was sustained. At the trial of the action there was an offer of evidence of the specific effect of the law upon the operation of trains as showing the impediment of the law to interstate commerce. The evidence was excluded. This court sustained the ruling on the ground that the evidence was not admissible under the pleadings. The ruling upon the demurrer to the answer was sustained on the ground that the answer contained only general averments constituting "mere conclusions.” It was said that the averWHITE, Ch. J., PITNEY and BRANDEIS, JJ., dissenting. 244 U. S.
ments "set forth no facts which would make the operation of the statute unconstitutional. They do not show the number or location of the crossings at which the railway company would be required to check the speed of its trains so as to interfere with their successful operation. For aught that appears as allegations of fact in this answer the crossing at which this injury happened may have been so located and of such dangerous character as to make the slackening of trains at that point necessary to the safety of those using the public highway, and a statute making such requirement only a reasonable police regulation, and not an unlawful attempt to regulate or hinder interstate commerce. In the absence of facts setting up a situation showing the unreasonable character of the statute as applied to the defendant under the circumstances, we think the amended answer set up no legal defense, and that the demurrer thereto was properly sustained.”
The facts so specified and which it was decided would give illegal operation to the statute are alleged in the present case, and, assuming them to be true and we must so assume-compel the conclusion that the statute is a direct burden upon interstate commerce, and, being such, is unlawful. The demurrer to the answer averring them was therefore improperly sustained.
We express no opinion on the third defense of the company. Reversed and case remanded for further proceedings not
inconsistent with this opinion.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE PITNEY and MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS dissent on the ground that the regulation in question was within the class which the State is entitled to enact in the absence of congressional action, and until such action. There having been no action by Congress, there is therefore no ground for holding the state action void as a regulation of interstate commerce.
v. SHAW AND THE BOARD OF DRAINAGE COMMISSIONERS OF THE BAYOU TERRE-AUX-BOEUFS DRAINAGE DISTRICT ET AL.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF
No. 472. Argued May 9, 1917.-Decided June 4, 1917.
It is a violation of due process of law for a state supreme court to re
verse a case and render judgment absolute against the party who succeeded in the trial court, upon a proposition of fact which was ruled to be immaterial at the trial and concerning which he had therefore no occasion and no proper opportunity to introduce his
evidence. In a suit to enjoin the collection of a drainage tax, evidence offered by
the plaintiff to prove that his land could not be benefited by the drainage improvement was ruled to be inadmissible upon defendant's objection, but was spread upon the record as carried to the state supreme court upon appeal from the judgment in defendant's favor. The latter court, after affirming the judgment, reversed it on rehearing and granted a permanent injunction against the tax upon finding from the answer and testimony before it that the land had not been and could not be benefited, and declined to consider defendant's application for further rehearing. Held, that in thus rendering judgment against the defendant without affording opportunity to introduce evidence upon the question of benefit there was a violation of due process of law, contrary to the Fourteenth Amend
ment. Upon the sustaining of his objection to evidence upon the ground that
the point to which it is directed is immaterial, a party is under no obligation to offer evidence to rebut that which was offered by his
opponent and ruled to be inadmissible. A claim that a judgment of a state supreme court violates rights under
the Fourteenth Amendment is not too late, though first made by the assignment of errors presented to its Chief Justice when the writ of error from this court was granted, if the aggrieved party was under no duty to anticipate the state court's action before the judgment
was rendered and was afforded no opportunity afterwards to present
the claim for its consideration, 138 Louisiana, 917, reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. Wm. Winans Wall for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Frank L. Richardson, with whom Mr. Frank Soule was on the brief, for defendants in error.
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a suit for an injunction against the collection of a drainage tax. The drainage district had issued bonds payable out of the tax and the plaintiff in error who held some of these bonds was allowed to intervene in defence. At the trial the plaintiff offered evidence to show that the land taxed was outside of the levee system that the drainage commissioners were building, that it would receive no benefit and really was an island or islands in the Gulf of Mexico. The defendant objected and the evidence was excluded as inadmissible under the pleadings, but it was spread upon the record and completed in order to carry the case to the Supreme Court. The defendant then put in testimony that the land was not in the Gulf of Mexico, and that the maps produced could not be relied upon for the depth of the water when water was indicated, but cross-examination to show the physical condition of the property was objected to—the defendants' position being that the question was not open, and that being the ruling of the court. Judgment was entered for the defendant
1 REPORTER's Note: Plaintiff in Error's petition for rehearing, mentioned in the opinion, is not copied in the record and non constat whether the federal right was there set up. Semble, that no opportunity was thus afforded to present the claim, because by the rule of the court, the door was closed against the petition, regardless of what it contained.
and intervenor and was affirmed on appeal by the Supreme Court. A rehearing was granted, however, and the court, observing that the answer and testimony showed that the land was low and marshy, had not been benefited or drained and could not be drained under the present system, held that the case was governed by Myles Salt Co. v. Board of Commissioners of the Iberia & St. Mary Drainage District, 239 U. S. 478, decided after the first decision in the present case; reversed the judgment and granted an injunction against the assessment upon this land.
The intervening defendant thereupon applied for a rehearing, but the court declined to consider the application under its rule that only one rehearing should be granted. He now brings this writ of error and says that he has been deprived of due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment, because the case has been decided against him without his ever having had the proper opportunity to present his evidence. Technically this is true, for when the trial court ruled that it was not open to the plaintiff to show that his land was not benefited, the defendant was not bound to go on and offer evidence that he contended was inadmissible, in order to rebut the testimony already ruled to be inadmissible in accordance with his view. The Chief Justice and Mr. Justice O'Niell were of opinion that the case should be remanded to the trial court, we presume upon the ground just stated. Probably the majority of the Supreme Court thought that it was so plain on the uncontroverted facts that the case was within the principle of The Myles Salt Company's Case that to remand it would be an empty form-a mere concession to technicality. It may turn out so, but we do not see in the record an absolute warrant for the assumption and therefore cannot be sure that the defendant's rights are protected without giving him a chance to put his evidence in.