Simpkin v. City of Rock Springs, 1314

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtPOTTER, Chief Justice.
Citation237 P. 245,33 Wyo. 166
PartiesSIMPKIN v. CITY OF ROCK SPRINGS ET AL [*]
Decision Date18 June 1925
Docket Number1314

237 P. 245

33 Wyo. 166

SIMPKIN
v.
CITY OF ROCK SPRINGS ET AL [*]

No. 1314

Supreme Court of Wyoming

June 18, 1925


Heard on reserved questions from the District Court, Sweetwater County; VOLNEY J. TIDBALL, Judge.

Action by Robert Simpkin against the City of Rock Springs and others. The court reserved and certified certain constitutional questions for the decision of the Supreme Court pursuant to Comp. Stats. 1920, Sections 6398-6400. Questions answered.

Lewis H. Brown, D. A. Preston, Frank Yates, W. L. Walls, and Kinkead, Ellery & Henderson for plaintiff.

The term "any election" as used in the suffrage provisions of the constitution, applies only to election of public officers and to a submission of questions of a governmental nature; it does not apply to a municipal or school district election at which is submitted only questions concerning the issuance of bonds for public improvement; Art. 1, Sec. 3; Art. 6, Sec. 1 and 2, Const.; Chap. 36, Sec. 1, L. 1925. The purpose of Art. 1, Sec. 3 is to safeguard civil rights and political equality; Winnett v. Adams, (Nebr.) 99 N.W. 681-684; State v. Huston, (Okla.) 113 P. 190; Friendly v. Olcott, (Ore.) 123 P. 53; People v. Toole, (Colo.) 86 P. 224; State v. Collins, (Wash.) 124 P. 903; Art. 6, Sec. 2 defines the qualifications of electors generally, but it was intended that the local affairs of quasi-municipal corporations being creatures of the state, should be regulated by the legislature, including the manner and purpose for which they might incur public debt; Art. 1, Sec. 3, the section in question was intended to restrict the contraction of public debt; Carville v. McBride (Nebr.) 202 P. 802-805; Menton v. Cook (Mich.) 111 N.W. 94-95; State v. Monahan, 72 Kans. 492; McClintock v. City (Mont.) 163 P. 99; the section does not contravene the provisions of the Constitution prohibiting taxation without consent of the people or their representatives; Art. 13, Sec. 1 gives unlimited power and authority to the legislature for the organization of municipalities and Sec. 3 of the same article delegates broad powers in the restriction of public debt; People v. Bartlett, 136 N.E. 654; Kraus v. City, 109 A. 226; Village v. Ricker, 129 N.E. 100; In Re Sanitary Board, 111 P. 368; Mackaneny v. Board, 134 N.E. 187; Londoner v. City, 119 P. 156; People v. Earle, 94 P. 294; Art. 16, Sec. 5 prohibits the legislature from granting power to create indebtedness exceeding 2% of the value of taxable property therein; the statute is a compliance with Art. 3, Sec. 3 of the Constitution; State v. Council (Wis.) 71 N.W. 86; Blanding v. Burr, 13 Cal. 343; Curtis v. Co. (U. S.) 16 L. ed. 745; Township v. Morrison, (U. S.) 33 L. ed. 736; Town v. Jenkins, 57 N.Y. 177; Williams v. Town, 66 N.Y. 129; Town v. Webb & Co., 72 S.E. 460; Highway Com. v. Co., 68 N.E. 211; Camp. v. State, 72 So. 483; the real burden of taxation falls upon real estate; personal property is moveable and in many instances escapes taxation; as a matter of policy the condition seems wise; if the power of a municipality to incur debt depends upon the will of the legislature, that body should have power to regulate conditions without restrictions by the court; Kinney v. City, (Ore.) 217 P. 840; Slaymaker v. Phillips, 5 Wyo. 453; City v. Stoddard, (Nev.) 167 P. 317; College v. Hylan, 199 N.Y.S. 634; the statute does not seem to involve a question of taxation without representation since the electors of Rock Springs were represented in its enactment as well as the enactment of Sec. 2244 C. S.; it is not special or local legislation; it applies to all elections held in counties, towns or cities at which a question of the issuance of bonds is submitted; State v. Sheldon, 29 Wyo. 233; McGarvey v. Swan, 17 Wyo. 120; the court will never declare a statute unconstitutional unless it appears so beyond a reasonable doubt; Swan v. U.S. 3 Wyo. 152.

Fred W. Johnson, T. S. Taliaferro, Jr., and W. A. Muir for defendant.

Chapter 36, Laws of 1925 attempts to restrict the qualifications of electors as fixed by Art. 6, Sec. 2 and political rights guaranteed by Art. 1, Sec. 3 of the Constitution. Municipal indebtedness exceeding the current taxes must be voted on by the people, Art. 16, Sec. 4 of the Constitution; the term "people" as used in the constitution means electors as defined therein as those who may vote at elections; Co. v. County (Ore.) 142 P. 577; Menton v. Cook (Mich.) 111 N.W. 94; Art. 7, Sec. 23 Const.; Legislature may provide for elections, but does not determine the qualifications of voters; People v. Elkus, (Calif.) 211 P. 38; "people" means voters; Art. 16, Sec. 6, Const.; Constitutional Debates 360-374; even property qualifications differ from real estate qualifications; the term "vote of the people" as used in the constitution means electors; Koehler v. Hill, (Iowa) 15 N.W. 609; People v. Draper, 15 N.Y.S. 532; Dupee v. Swigert, (Ill.) 21 N.E. 622; Dred Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 393; Boyd vs. Nebraska, 143 U.S. 135; Walnut v. Wade, 103 U.S. 683; Wyatt v. Larimer, 29 P. 906; Scott v. Twombley, 46 N.Y.S. 699; In Re Incurring of State Debts, 37 A. 14; Laws of 1890-1891, Chap. 89, 2184 C. S. Harrington v. Town (Minn.) 6 N.W. 780; the votes in controversy would not have changed the result, hence the election was valid; Potter v. Furnish, 128 P. 542; Reid v. County, 125 P. 429; irrespective of its conflict with the constitution, Chap. 36, Laws of 1925 is capable of practical results quite unjust, absurd and ridiculous viz: an irresponsible husband by making an affidavit that his wife is the owner of real estate however slight its taxable value, may vote, whereas the owner of only personal property but of great value and the heaviest taxpayer in the town would be deprived of the privilege of voting; numerous illustrations, equally absurd, might be suggested, but it seems unnecessary.

POTTER, Chief Justice. BLUME and KIMBALL, JJ., concur.

OPINION

[33 Wyo. 169] POTTER, Chief Justice.

This cause has been heard upon reserved constitutional questions certified by the district court to have arisen in the cause; a proceeding provided for by Comp. Stat. 1920, Sections 6398-6400. It was commenced in the district court in Sweetwater County, under what may be known as the "Declaratory Judgments Act," (Ch. 50, Laws 1923), wherein it is provided, among other things, that any person whose rights, status or other legal relations are affected by a statute may have determined any question of construction or validity and "obtain a declaration of rights, status or other legal relations thereunder." The plaintiff is an alleged duly qualified resident, citizen and elector and the owner of real estate subject to taxation in the city of Rock Springs, in said county of Sweetwater, and he names as defendants the said city, alleged to be a duly incorporated municipal corporation, and certain individuals named respectively as [33 Wyo. 170] the mayor and councilmen of said city. The action is explained in the plaintiff's brief substantially as follows:

The gist of the petition is that at a special municipal election held in Rock Springs on March 31, 1925, at which election the question of the issuance of the bonds of said city for the purpose of building a sewerage system was submitted to the electors thereof, the provisions of Chapter 36, Laws of 1925, were not followed in any respect, but entirely ignored, --in that no person voting at said election was required to, or did, produce a tax receipt showing that he or she was a tax payer on real property, and that no person voting at said election was required to or did make oath that he or she was the owner or the husband or wife of the owner of real estate located in said city. That prior to the holding of said election the said officials publicly announced, or caused to be publicly announced, that said Chapter of the Laws of 1925 was unconstitutional and void, and that the ownership of real estate located in said city was not an essential qualification of an elector at said election, but that any person qualified to vote at a general election of public officers was qualified to vote at said election, and that pursuant to said announcement, said election was conducted and held "in keeping therewith." That at said election sundry persons who were not owners of real estate located in said city, or the husband or wife of the owner of any such real estate, voted, and that no person who voted at said election was required to or did produce a tax receipt, or make affidavit, as required by said statute.

And that at said election votes of electors who were not taxpayers on real estate were received and counted was not questioned upon the argument here. When the district court in said cause ordered certain constitutional questions reserved for the decision of this court, the case was pending therein upon a petition, a demurrer thereto by the mayor and councilmen named as defendants, and an answer filed by the city of Rock Springs. The petition sets forth that there had been duly passed and enacted by the council of [33 Wyo. 171] said city an ordinance for a special election of all the qualified electors of the city on March 31, 1925, to vote upon the question whether the said council shall be authorized to issue the coupon bonds of the city in the sum of $ 170,000, said amount not being in excess of 4% of the taxable property in said city for the year 1924, for the purpose of building a sewerage system in said city. That in accordance therewith the mayor issued and published a proclamation for said election, which is set out in full in the petition, stating that there will be a special election on the date above stated "by the qualified electors thereof," for [237 P. 246] said purpose, and, further, that the sewerage system was proposed to be built under and pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 141, of the 1920 Compiled Statutes, "and any and all acts amendatory or in...

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8 practice notes
  • Holly Sugar Corporation v. Fritzler, 1633
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 16, 1931
    ...297; Miller v. Miller, 261 S.W. 965; In re Kariher, (Pa.) 131 A. 265; McCrory Corp. v. Braunstein, 134 A. 752; Simpkins v. Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166; West v. School Dist., (Wyo.) 258 P. 583. The distinction between necessary and proper parties has been defined by this court. Field v. Leiter......
  • Beatty v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 1915
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 10, 1935
    ...of the right of removal. None of the Wyoming decisions on the subject thus far support plaintiff's contention. Simpkin v. Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166; Holly Sugar Company v. Fritzler, supra. Some useful purpose must be accomplished by the suit. Holly Sugar Company v. Fritzler, supra; Bond v. ......
  • State ex rel. Keefe v. McInerney, 2343
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 10, 1947
    ...a majority of those who are entitled to vote. State ex rel Blair v. Brooks, 17 Wyo. 344, 99 P. 874. Simpkin v. Rock Springs, et al., 33 Wyo. 166, 237 P. 245. Statements of witnesses that they know of their own knowledge certain persons were electors is incompetent testimony and a conclusion......
  • Anderson v. Wyoming Development Company, 2267
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 13, 1944
    ...case. Hencken v. City of Morgan Hill, et al., 69 P. 2nd 462; Holly Sugar Co. v. Fritzler, 42 Wyo. 445; Simpkins v. City of Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166, 237 P. 243; Moss v. Moss, 128 P. 2d 526 Cal. 141 A.L.R. 1422; 1 C.J.S., pages 1055-6. If the purpose of the amended petition is to attack the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Holly Sugar Corporation v. Fritzler, 1633
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 16, 1931
    ...297; Miller v. Miller, 261 S.W. 965; In re Kariher, (Pa.) 131 A. 265; McCrory Corp. v. Braunstein, 134 A. 752; Simpkins v. Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166; West v. School Dist., (Wyo.) 258 P. 583. The distinction between necessary and proper parties has been defined by this court. Field v. Leiter......
  • Beatty v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co., 1915
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 10, 1935
    ...of the right of removal. None of the Wyoming decisions on the subject thus far support plaintiff's contention. Simpkin v. Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166; Holly Sugar Company v. Fritzler, supra. Some useful purpose must be accomplished by the suit. Holly Sugar Company v. Fritzler, supra; Bond v. ......
  • State ex rel. Keefe v. McInerney, 2343
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 10, 1947
    ...a majority of those who are entitled to vote. State ex rel Blair v. Brooks, 17 Wyo. 344, 99 P. 874. Simpkin v. Rock Springs, et al., 33 Wyo. 166, 237 P. 245. Statements of witnesses that they know of their own knowledge certain persons were electors is incompetent testimony and a conclusion......
  • Anderson v. Wyoming Development Company, 2267
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 13, 1944
    ...case. Hencken v. City of Morgan Hill, et al., 69 P. 2nd 462; Holly Sugar Co. v. Fritzler, 42 Wyo. 445; Simpkins v. City of Rock Springs, 33 Wyo. 166, 237 P. 243; Moss v. Moss, 128 P. 2d 526 Cal. 141 A.L.R. 1422; 1 C.J.S., pages 1055-6. If the purpose of the amended petition is to attack the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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