McArthur v. Nelson

Decision Date17 March 1883
Citation4 Ky.L.Rptr. 754,81 Ky. 67
PartiesMcArthur, & c., v. Nelson, & c.
CourtKentucky Court of Appeals

1. The act, entitled " An act to authorize the construction and maintenance of a court-house in Campbell county," approved April 17th, 1882, is constitutional.

2. The object of the act is the building of a court-house, and all the various sections of the act having a direct connection with the subject-matter expressed in the title must be regarded as necessary to carry into execution the legislative intent.

3. The power to appoint commissioners was necessary to accomplish the purpose in view.

4. The creation of the district is not repugnant to the title because the district embraced a smaller territory prior to the act.

5. The commissioners to receive the taxes and apply them to the building of the court-house cannot be regarded as district officers within the provision of the constitution forbidding the creation of any office the term of which shall be for a longer time than four years.

6. Although the duties of these commissioners may continue for four years, and even longer, it does not violate any constitutional provision.



1. This court has repeatedly held that where an act contains different subjects, some of which are stated in the title and some not, those referred to in the title are valid, and those not are invalid. (Rushing v. Sebree, 12 Bush, 200; Jones v. Thompson, Ib., 394; Fuqua v. Mullen, 13 Ib., 470.)

2. The title of the act relates to the construction and maintenance of a court-house in Newport, and only those provisions germane to it are valid.

3. Whilst nothing in the title of the act has any relation to provision for the poor, the twelfth section directs the court-house district to provide for its own poor. This is not within the title of the act.

4. As to the commissioners provided for by the act, the constitution restricts the tenure of office to four years. (Act February 27, 1856; 1 Stant. Rev. Stat., 345; Act February 26, 1883; Session Acts 1867, 393; Speed v Crawford, 3 Met., 215; Const. Hist. Eng., 597; Hoke v. Commonwealth, 79 Ky.; Cypress Pond Draining Co v. Hooper, 2 Met., 354.)


1. The authorities leave no room for doubt as to the power of the legislature to establish the district in question.

2. It is exclusively within that department of our state government to pass judgment upon its propriety or its necessity.

3. As to the title of the act, we maintain that the rule established at an early day, and steadily adhered to ever since, is, that section 37 of the constitution should receive a reasonable and not a technical construction, and that no provision of a statute relating directly or indirectly to the subject expressed in the title having a natural connection therewith, should be deemed within the constitutional inhibition. (79 Ky. 573, 576, 581; 13 B. Mon., 1-26, 27-32 33; 9 B. Mon., 344, 345; 17 B. Mon., 190; 2 Met., 169, 219, 353, 354; 3 Met., 569, 575, 576; Ib., 213; 2 Duvall, 24; 8 Bush, 112; Ib., 453; 10 Bush, 271, 605, 613, 691; 11 Bush, 74, 79; 12 Bush, 198; Ib., 394; 13 Bush, 213, 467, 685, 715; Civil Code, sec. 559; 1 Black., 61; 1 Wall., 221; 50 Pa.St. R., 150; 19 Ib., 258; 24 Ind. 194; 11 Wheat., 270; Burroughs on Taxation, 459, 460; 1 Gr. Ev., secs. 4-6; Gen. Stat., chap. 33, art. 5, sec. 1; Potter's Dwarris on Stat., 111, note 8, 145; Potter's Dwarris on Stat., 183, note 5; 203, note 20; Cooley's Const. Lim., top pp. 103, 100, 101; Cooley's Const. Lim., mar. pp. 182, 183, 186; Cooley's Const. Lim., mar. pp. 143, 144, 163, 164; Cooley's Const. Lim., top. pp. 200, sec. 4, 618.)



By certain legislative enactments existing prior to April, 1882, the city of Newport, in Campbell county, was compelled to pay the expenses of the county courts held in that city, and also the salaries of the county judge and county attorney, the county seat being located at Alexandria. By an act approved on the 17th of April, 1882, a district styled the court-house district was created, with a view of imposing a tax upon the people within the prescribed boundary sufficient to construct a new court-house within the city of Newport on the site where the present court-house is located. The constitutionality of the act is assailed upon various grounds:

First. That the title of the act is misleading.

Second. That the commissioners appointed to execute the provisions of the act have no other tenure of office than to hold at the pleasure of the judge appointing them.

Third. That if any of the provisions of the act are constitutional, those that are unconstitutional being essential to its proper enforcement, the whole law must be held to be invalid.

The act is entitled " An act to authorize the construction and maintenance of a court-house in Newport, in Campbell county. "

The first section of the act authorizes the judge of the circuit court to appoint three commissioners, residents of the district, who shall hold their office at the will and pleasure of the judge. It is made the duty of the commissioners to have the court-house constructed at a cost not exceeding $50,000, and, to enable them to raise this money, they are authorized to issue bonds, with coupons attached, bearing interest at five per cent., payable semi-annually; and, to redeem the bonds and pay the interest, they are further empowered to levy an annual tax on the real and personal property in the district, not exceeding twelve cents on the $100, & c.

By the fourteenth section of the act the entire question is submitted to a vote of the people, with two columns in the poll-books, one headed " for the court-house tax, " and the other " against the court-house tax, " and the result of this vote determined the right of the judge to appoint the commissioners, as well as the right of the latter to proceed in the construction of the building as contemplated by the act.

The election was held in accordance with the law, and a majority favored the construction of the court-house, and we perceive no valid reason for holding the act to be in violation of the constitution. The voters within the particular boundary had every opportunity to express their views for and against the measure, and certainly none of the provisions of the act to which we have alluded are foreign to the title, but, on the contrary, have a direct reference to it.

The creation of the district in which the vote was to be taken and the tax imposed forms a part of the subject-matter, and that the power to appoint commissioners, when not selected by the legislature, should be vested in some tribunal of the county, was necessary to accomplish the purpose in view is manifest. The object to be accomplished was the building of a court-house, and all the various sections of the act having a direct connection with the subject-matter expressed in the title must be regarded as necessary to carry into execution the...

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4 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Goldburg
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 1915
    ... ... proceeding under the indictment. Rogers v. Jacob, 88 ... Ky. 502, 11 S.W. 513, 11 Ky. Law Rep. 45; McArthur v ... Nelson, 81 Ky. 67; Gayle v. Owen Co. Court, 83 ... Ky. 61; Duke v. O'Bryan, 100 Ky. 710, 39 S.W ... 444, 824, 19 Ky. Law Rep. 81; L ... ...
  • Morrilton Waterworks Improvement District v. Earl
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1903
    ...& Eng. Enc. Law, 562, 383; 94 N.Y. 592; 32 N.Y. 358; 42 P. 963; 4 Blackf. (Ind.), 116; Mech. Pub. Off. § 120; 40 Mich. 585; 45 Ill. 397; 81 Ky. 67; Ore. 98; 52 N.Y. 478. There was no vacancy in the council. 21 L. R. A. 539; 97 N.Y. 271; 7 Col. 612; 7 Ind. 326; 49 Cal. 407; 47 Mo. 301; Throo......
  • Weber v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 1903
    ...want of precision, but the act related to only one general subject. Allen v. Hall, 77 Ky. 85. See, to same effect, in substance, McArthur v. Nelson, 81 Ky. 67; Commonwealth v. Godshaw, 92 Ky. 435, 17 S.W. Conley v. Commonwealth, 98 Ky. 125, 32 S.W. 285; L. & O. T. R. Co. v. Ballard, 59 Ky. ......
  • McArthur, &C., v. Nelson, &C.
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • March 17, 1883

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