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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued on motion to dismiss December 3, 1923. ; April 7, 1924, Decided
No. 21, Original.
[*478] [**369] [***798] MR. JUSTICE BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The State of Georgia obtained leave to file its bill of complaint in this Court in a suit against the City of Chattanooga to enjoin it from appropriating for street purposes certain lands constituting a part of a railroad yard which that State owns in Chattanooga.
The substance of the bill may be stated briefly. In 1837, Georgia undertook the construction of a railroad, known as the Western and Atlantic Railroad, extending from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The legislature of Tennessee granted to Georgia the right to acquire the necessary right of way from the state line to Chattanooga and also land for terminal facilities. In 1852, Georgia purchased about 11 acres, then in the outskirts of that [****12] city, on which is located its railroad yard. The city has grown and this tract of land is now near the business center. Georgia owns and formerly operated the railroad, but since 1870, it has been operated by lessee companies; and now the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Company operates it under a lease which will expire in 1969.
[*479] For some years, there has been a demand for extending one of the principal streets of the city through this railroad yard. Georgia denies the power of the city to condemn the necessary right of way for the street. It says that the right of Tennessee to condemn this land or to authorize the city to condemn it is not involved. But it asserts that the State has not authorized the city to condemn this land; that the city has been granted power of eminent domain only to the extent that it is granted by general statutes to corporations; that [***799] these statutes do not confer the power to appropriate land already devoted to public use; that such [**370] land can be taken only when specifically authorized and that no power has been delegated to take property which the State has permitted a sister State to acquire. It is stated [****13] that the city officials have assumed by ordinance to open the street in such a way as will destroy the yard for railroad purposes, and that, prior to the filing of the bill in this case, the city commenced proceedings in the Circuit Court of Hamilton County, Tennessee, to condemn the right of way for the proposed street extension, and in its petition named the State of Georgia and its lessee as defendants, and caused publication to be made for that State as a non-resident defendant. The bill alleges that Georgia has never consented to be sued in the courts of Tennessee, and prays for a decree enjoining the city from prosecuting the proceedings, and from interfering with Georgia or its lessee in the possession and use of the land, and decreeing that its land which the city seeks to appropriate is not subject to condemnation. The city moves to dismiss the bill. The motion must be granted.
1. The power of Tennessee, or of Chattanooga as its grantee, to take land for a street is not impaired by the fact that a sister State owns the land for railroad purposes. Having acquired land in another State for the purpose of using it in a private capacity, Georgia can claim no sovereign [****14] [*480] immunity or privilege in respect to its expropriation. The terms on which Tennessee gave Georgia permission to acquire and use the land and Georgia's acceptance amount to consent that Georgia may be made a party to condemnation proceedings.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
264 U.S. 472 *; 44 S. Ct. 369 **; 68 L. Ed. 796 ***; 1924 U.S. LEXIS 2529 ****
STATE OF GEORGIA v. CITY OF CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE.
Prior History: [****1] IN EQUITY.
ON defendant's motion to dismiss a bill filed in this Court by the State of Georgia to enjoin the City of Chattanooga from prosecuting, in a court of Tennessee, proceedings to condemn part of a railroad yard, owned by the plaintiff within the City, and from interfering with the possession of the plaintiff and its lessee, etc.
railroad, condemn, street, courts, proceedings, sovereign
Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Relations With Governments, Real Property Law, Eminent Domain Proceedings, Elements, Just Compensation, Property, General Overview, Constitutional Limits & Rights, Public Use, Business & Corporate Compliance, Transportation Law, Rail Transportation, State & Local Regulation, Claims By & Against, Local Governments, Duties & Powers, Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Preliminary Considerations, Equity