City of St. Paul v. Colter

Decision Date01 January 1866
Citation12 Minn. 16
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Under the charter of the city of St. Paul, the common council, May 4, 1865, passed an ordinance forbidding any one to keep a butcher's stall, or vend fresh or butchers' meat, in less quantities than the quarter, within the city, without having obtained a license, under a penalty of not less than $20 nor more than $100, and fixing the license fee at $200. Defendant was charged before the city justice with violating this ordinance, and being convicted, appealed to the district court. On the trial there, plaintiff proved the city charter and ordinance, and the acts complained of, and rested.

The defendant then offered to prove, among others, "that defendant is regularly engaged in the business of buying and selling fresh and butchers' meat within said city, at wholesale and retail, and was so engaged at the time charged in the complaint, and has been so engaged for the last two years; * * * that he is the owner of the shop, building, and premises in which said business is carried on; that said building is built of brick, and was designed and built for his said business, at an expense of $10,000, without any expense to the city; * * * that the sum of $200 * * * is not required or necessary to regulate his said business, but said sum is required solely for the purpose of raising a revenue; that by said ordinance he is required to pay much more than his share towards the support of the city government, in order to carry on his said business; that the payment of said $200 for license, and the restriction placed upon his said business, by said city, is unreasonable and unnecessary, and the price of meat enhanced thereby and the sale restrained; * * * that it is wholly unnecessary to regulate the butcher's business, and oppressive to the butchers;" which testimony so offered was rejected by the court, under objection, and the defendant excepted.

Smith & Gilman and S. M. Flint, for appellant.

I. V. D. Heard, for respondent.


Unquestionably the legislature of this state would possess authority under a general power of legislation, as that function is commonly understood and exercised, to establish municipal corporations. Besides, our constitution places this matter beyond doubt when it says, in section 2 of article 10: "No corporation shall be formed under special acts except for municipal purposes." See Tierney v. Dodge, 9 Minn. 166, (Gil. 153.) And the object in chartering these municipal bodies is to confer special privileges and police powers designed to meet the necessities of the case; among these is the privilege of enacting by-laws and ordinances, by which the good order, the health, and general well-being of the municipality may be secured. Undoubtedly, this is a species of delegated legislation; but there can be no valid objection to it on that score, for the authority to establish these municipal corporations, in its commonly-received acceptation, implies the power to establish with the privileges which are ordinarily a part of the chartered rights of such bodies politic. The regulation and licensing of butcher shops are some of the privileges allowed to incorporated cities. Sedgwick, St. & Const. Law, 463-6. We think there can be no doubt of the power of the legislature to enact section 5, c. 16, Sp. Laws 1865, p. 123, whereby authority is granted to the common council of the city of St. Paul, "by ordinance, resolution, or by-laws, to license and regulate * * * butchers' shops and butchers' stalls, and vendors of butchers' meat, * * * provided that they be not repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States, or of this state." Section 5, above cited, further provides "that not less than $5 nor more than $500 shall be required to be paid for any license under this act;" and, with some apparent repetition, adds that "said common council may, at any time, revoke any license granted under this act for mal-conduct in the course of trade, and may regulate and restrain the sale of fresh or butchers' meat," etc.

It will be at once seen that quite extensive powers are thus bestowed upon the city council, for the purpose, doubtless, of establishing an efficient municipal government; and these powers do not depend, as in many of the English cases in which questions have arisen somewhat analogous to those raised in this action, upon customs, the existence of which was in dispute, but they are conferred by express legislation. It is not contended, nor could it be with reason, that the city council might not with propriety be authorized to fix upon some amount as the price of a license in a case of this kind but it is urged that the ordinance by which such price is fixed at $200 is, on account of the exorbitance of that sum, "unauthorized, void, oppressive, and in restraint of trade;" that "municipal corporations can only regulate trades or employments that are liable in and of themselves to become nuisances, or injurious to the public, if not properly supervised or carried on;" that "such corporation cannot prohibit the conduct of a lawful business;" that "these powers, legislative and otherwise, are confined to sanitary and police regulations;" that "the legislature of the state cannot authorize a corporation to pass laws, save only such as are reasonable, and in regulation of employments that may become offensive;" that "legislation...

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18 cases
  • State ex rel. Young v. Robinson
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • June 7, 1907
    ... ...          The ... power conferred by the charter of St. Cloud upon the city ... council thereof, upon the subject of the removal of municipal ... officers for misconduct in ... 913, where the court held that a ... prosecution under an ordinance of the city of St. Paul for ... keeping a house of ill fame was not a bar to a prosecution ... for the same act under the ... country. City of St. Paul v. Colter, 12 Minn. 16 ... (41), 90 Am. Dec. 278; People v. Hurlbut, 24 Mich ... 44, 96, 9 Am. 103; ... ...
  • Village of Minneota v. Martin
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • February 6, 1914
    ... ... 223, 60 N.W. 724, 28 ... L.R.A. 588, 47 Am. St. 697. In Trenton Horse R. Co. v ... City of Trenton, 53 N.J.L. 132, 20 A. 1076, 11 L.R.A ... 410, it is said: "The judicial power to ... license fee shall be is largely within the legislative ... discretion. City of St. Paul v. Colter, 12 Minn. 16 ...          It is ... insisted that this case is ruled by City ... ...
  • State v. Robinson
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • June 7, 1907
    ...upon them, and such as they have usually possessed and exercised in the past, both in England and this country. City of St. Paul v. Colter, 12 Minn. 16 (41), 90 Am. Dec. 278; People v. Hurlbut, 24 Mich. 44, 96, 9 Am. 103; Greenwood v. State, 6 Baxt. 567, 32 Am. 539. Though its authority is ......
  • Jackson v. Board of Education of City of Minneapolis
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • August 26, 1910
    ... ... the charter of the city. State v. Anderson, 63 Minn ... 208, 65 N.W. 265; City of St. Paul v. Colter, 12 ... Minn. 16 (41), 90 Am. Dec. 278. Consequently the test to be ... applied here is whether or not chapter 157, p. 444, Sp. Laws ... ...
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