Chi., B. & Q. R. Co. v. Chicago

166 U.S. 226, 17 S. Ct. 581 (1897)



A judgment of a state court, even if it be authorized by statute, whereby private property is taken for the state or under its direction for public use, without compensation made or secured to the owner, is wanting in the due process of law required by U.S. Const. amend. XIV, and the affirmance of such judgment by the highest court of the state is a denial by that state of a right secured to the owner by that instrument. 


Plaintiff city enacted an ordinance condemning certain parcels of land owned by defendant railroad. Plaintiff filed a condemnation petition, which prayed that the just compensation required for private property taken or damaged be ascertained by a jury, which subsequently awarded only nominal compensation. Defendant railroad filed a writ of error with regard to the final judgment of the Supreme Court of Illinois, which affirmed a state court decision awarding defendant only nominal compensation. The Unitedd States Supreme Court affirmed.


Does "due process of law" require compensation to be made or secured to the owner of private property taken for public use?




The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the state trial court's judgment. Defendant filed a writ of error, questioning, inter alia, the construction of U.S. Const. amend. VII and whether the Due Process Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIVhad been violated. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed, holding that the states reserved to themselves the power to enact all police laws necessary and proper to secure and protect the life and property of their citizens, and uncompensated obedience to a regulation enacted for the public safety under the police power of the state was not a taking or damaging without just compensation of private property.

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