226 U.S. 137 (1912), 48, Eubank v. City of Richmond

Docket Nº:No. 48
Citation:226 U.S. 137, 33 S.Ct. 76, 57 L.Ed. 156
Party Name:Eubank v. City of Richmond
Case Date:December 02, 1912
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 137

226 U.S. 137 (1912)

33 S.Ct. 76, 57 L.Ed. 156



City of Richmond

No. 48

United States Supreme Court

December 2, 1912

Argued November 12, 13, 1912




While the police power of the state extends not only to regulations promoting public health, morals and safety, but also to those promoting public convenience and general prosperity, it has its limits, and must stop when it encounters the prohibitions of the federal Constitution.

A clash between the police power of the state and constitutional limitations will not be lightly inferred, but the exact point of contact cannot be determined by any general formula in advance. Hudson Water Co. v. McCarter, 209 U.S. 349.

Governmental powers must be flexible and adaptive.

The party assailing the constitutionality of a state police statute must clearly show that it offends constitutional guaranties in order to justify the court in declaring it invalid.

A municipal ordinance requiring the authorities to establish building lines on separate blocks back of the public streets and across private property on the request of less than all of the owners of the property affected is not a valid exercise of police power, nor does it serve the public safety, convenience, or welfare.

Such an ordinance takes private property, not for public welfare but for convenience of other owners of property, and deprives the person whose property is taken of his property without due process of law and is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The ordinance of the City of Richmond based on Chapter 349 of the Laws of Virginia of 1908, requiring the municipal authorities to establish building lines in any block on request of the owners of two-thirds of the property, is unconstitutional as an attempt to deprive nonassenting owners of their property without due process of law.

110 Va. 749 reversed.

Page 138

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of an ordinance of the City of Richmond, Virginia, fixing a building line, are stated in the opinion.

Page 140

MCKENNA, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In error to review a judgment of the Hustings Court of the City of Richmond, affirming firming a judgment of the Police Court of the city, imposing a fine of $25 on plaintiff in error for alleged violation of an ordinance of the city fixing a building line. The judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of the state. 110 Va. 749.

Plaintiff in error attacks the validity of the ordinance and the statute under which it was enacted on the ground that they infringe the Constitution of the United States in that they deprive plaintiff in error of his property...

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