Guy v. Baltimore

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United States Supreme Court

100 U.S. 434

Guy  v.  Baltimore

Section 4 of an act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, chapter 162, entitled 'An Act to appoint State wharfingers in the city of Baltimore, and to authorize the collection of wharfage in certain cases in said city' (Maryland Code of Public Local Laws, art. 4, sect. 945), provides as follows:--

'The mayor and city council of Baltimore shall be, and they are hereby, empowered and authorized to regulate, establish, charge and collect, to the use of the said mayor and city council, such rate of wharfage as they may think reasonable, of and from all vessels resorting to or lying at, landing, depositing, or transporting goods or articles other than the productions of this State, on any wharf or wharves belonging to said mayor and city council, or any public wharf in the said city, other than the wharves belonging to or rented by the State.'

Pursuant to the authority conferred by said act, the mayor and city council, on July 27, 1858, passed an ordinance 'to regulate the public wharves in the city of Baltimore,' the provisions of which, as found in the thirty-third and thirty-fifth sections of art. 22 in the Baltimore City Code, are as follows:--'SECT. 33. All goods, wares, or merchandise, landed on the public wharves from on board of any vessel or vessels lying at said wharves . . . shall pay the following rates of wharfage for each and every day the same may remain thereon . . . to be paid by the owner or consignee, or in the event of there being none, the master of the vessel, and all goods shipped from one vessel to another, one-half to be paid by the shipper, bags of coffee, ginger, pepper, or any other articles in similar bags, each one cent; bales of merchandise, . . . &c., each four cents; barrels of every description containing merchandise or otherwise, each two cents; boxes of sugar, . . . &c., each three cents; . . . grain per bushel, and all other articles sold by the bushel, other than the product of the State of Maryland, one-half cent; grindstones, each one cent;' &c., 'all other goods not enumerated in the above list to pay in proportion.'

'SECT. 35. All vessels resorting to or lying at, landing, depositing or transporting goods or articles other than the production of this State, on or from any wharf or wharves belonging to the mayor and city council, or any public wharf in the said city, other than the wharves belonging to or rented by the State, shall be chargeable with the wharfage as fixed by this ordinance, upon all goods or articles landed or deposited on any wharf or wharves belonging to the said mayor and city council; and the master or owner of the vessel so depositing, landing, or transporting said goods or articles, shall be responsible for the same.'

The act of the General Assembly of 1860, chapter 226 (Code of Public General Laws, art. 96, sect. 18), requires potatoes to be sold in the State of Maryland 'by weight, at the rate of fifty-six pounds to the bushel,' under penalty of a fine of ten dollars.

Sect. 6 Revised Ordinances of 1858 (Baltimore City Code, art. 22, sect. 10) is as follows:--

'It shall not be lawful for any vessel landing or receiving cargo at any of the wharves within the limits of the city, which is required to pay wharfage on cargo or vessel to the harbor masters of the city of Baltimore, to leave the wharf where said vessel receives or discharges her cargo, without furnishing said harbor master, upon application, with his manifest or bills of lading of cargo, and paying the wharfage on the same, under a penalty of $20, to be collected, as other debts are collected, from the captain, commander, owner, or consignees of said vessels so offending.'In June, 1876, Edward T. Guy, a resident in and citizen of the county of Accomac, in the State of Virginia, arrived at the city of Baltimore with the schooner 'George S. Powell,' of which he was captain and part owner, laden with a cargo of potatoes raised and produced in the State of Virginia, and landed said cargo, amounting to two hundred and twenty bushels, on Pratt Street wharf, belonging to said city, not 'that part of Pratt Street wharf reserved.' Thereupon the harbor-master demanded of him the sum of $4.40 wharfage upon said potatoes so landed; and payment thereof being refused, the city of Baltimore brought this action of debt, to recover the penalty of $20, imposed by art. 22, sect. 10, of the city code, supra. The defendant appeared, and judgment for $20 penalty and costs having been rendered against him, he appealed to the Baltimore City Court, at the trial wherein he prayed the court to grant, as the law of the case, the following propositions:--

1st. That the act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sect. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are repugnant to the third clause of the eighth section of art. 1 of the Constitution of the United States, and unlawful.

2d, That the act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sect. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are repugnant to the second clause of the tenth section of art. 1 of the Constitution of the United States, and unlawful.

3d, That the act of the General Assembly of Maryland of 1827, c. 162, sect. 4, and the portions of the ordinances of the mayor and city council passed thereunder, which impose a special wharfage charge on extra-state grown products, are an infringement upon the rights, privileges, and immunities of the appellant, claimed under the first clause of the second section of art. 4 of the Constitution of the United States, and are unlawful.

The court having refused to grant said propositions and affirmed the judgment below, Guy sued out this writ of error.

Mr. Frederick J. Brown, for the plaintiff in error.

The act of the General Assembly of Maryland and the ordinances of the city of Baltimore, under which this action was brought, are repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and therefore void. Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419; Steamship Company v. Port Wardens, 6 Wall. 31; Woodruff v. Parham, 8 id. 123; Hinson v. Lott, id. 148; Ward v. Maryland, 12 id. 418; State Tonnage Tax Cases, id. 204; Case of the State Freight Tax, 15 id. 232; Peete v. Morgan, 19 id. 581; Cannon v. New Orleans, 20 id. 577; Railroad Company v. Maryland, 21 id. 456; Welton v. State of Missouri, 91 U.S. 275; Henderson v. Mayor, &c., 92 id. 259; McCready v. Virginia, 94 id. 391; Cooke v. Pennsylvania, 97 id. 566; Packet Company v. Keokuk, 95 id. 80; The Wharf Case, 3 Bland (Md.), 361.

Mr. James L. McLane, contra, cited Dugan v. Mayor, &c., 5 Gill & John. (Md.) 357; Passenger Cases, 7 How. 402; Conner v. Elliott, 18 id. 591; Steamship Company v. Port Wardens, 6 Wall. 31; Woodruff v. Parham, 8 id. 136; Downham v. Alexandria Council, 10 id. 173; Marshall v. Vicksburg, 15 id. 146; Case of the State Freight Tax, id. 277; McCready v. Virginia, 94 U.S. 391; Packet Company v. Keokuk, 95 id. 80; Cooley on Taxation, 62.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

Notes[edit]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).