Board of Liquidation of the City of New Orleans v. United States
The facts, as stated in the petition and found by the court, are briefly as follows: On the third of March, 1882, the relator recovered judgment in the circuit court of the United States against the city for $121,697.18, which drew interest from its date at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum. This judgment was founded on contracts for municipal purposes made from 1871 to 1877, inclusive. To review it the city sued out a writ of error from this court, but, as it did not operate as a supersedeas, the relator caused a writ of fleri facias to be issued, and levied upon certain moneys due and to become due to the city by the Canal & Claiborne Street Railroad Company and by the Orleans Railroad Company, and also upon the interest of the city in the New Orleans Sugar Shed Company and in the Orleans Sugar Sheds. Proceedings were taken to contest these seizures, but judgment was rendered in his favor, to review which the city sued out a writ of error together with a supersedeas. While these cases were pending in this court, the relator and the city entered into a compromise, by which it was agreed, among other things, that she should dismiss the writs of error, and that he should renounce his seizure of the sugar sheds, apply the bonus due and to become due by the railway companies to the payment of his judgment, and fund the balance under the provisions of the act known as No. 67 of the legislature of the state of 1884. Under the writ various sums were collected, which, on the eighth of July, 1885, had reduced the judgment to $76,194.62. The relator complied with the terms of the compromise on his part, and called upon the board to prepare and deliver to him bonds, under the provisions of act No. 67 of 1884, for the balance due on his judgment; but the board refused to comply with the demand. The petition alleged that the city made no objection to the performance of this duty by the board, but that the board refused on its own account. The relator, therefore, prayed for an alternative writ of mandamus commanding the board to prepare and issue the bonds of the city, pursuant to act 67 of 1884, to the amount and value of the balance due on his judgment, and deliver them to him, and that the board be cited to answer his demand, and that upon the hearing the writ be made peremptory. The board appeared and answered the petition, setting up that all the property of the city not dedicated to public use, and also the surplus of what was known as the 'Premium Bond Tax,' were pledged, under act No. 58 of 1882, and by previous legislation, to the payment of other bonds of the city which were outstanding; and that the act of 1884, in so far as it directs a diversion of that property and fund, impairs the contract with the holders of those bonds, and is therefore unconstitutional and void. By consent of parties, the Sun Mutual Insurance Company, as the holder of such outstanding bonds, intervened and joined with the board in asserting the unconstitutionality of act 67 of 1884. The court granted a peremptory mandamus as prayed, and to review that judgment the case was brought here.
Henry C. Miller, for Board of Liquidation.
Edgar H. Farrar, for United States ex rel. Hart.
Mr. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.