State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist., No. 31656.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtEllison
Citation58 S.W.2d 988
PartiesSTATE EX REL. J. BECKER, MARY SCHULTE, WILLIAM ODENBACK and ISAAC W. PERCIVAL, Relators, v. WELLSTON SEWER DISTRICT OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, a Public Corporation; BOARD OF SUPERVISORS of said district, ALEXANDER E. RUBELING, President; ALEXANDER E. RUBELING, JESS M. BARNETT, EDWARD A. LAUMANN, Supervisors and H.O. HENDRICKS, Secretary of the Board of Supervisors.
Docket NumberNo. 31656.
Decision Date21 March 1933
58 S.W.2d 988
STATE EX REL. J. BECKER, MARY SCHULTE, WILLIAM ODENBACK and ISAAC W. PERCIVAL, Relators,
v.
WELLSTON SEWER DISTRICT OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, a Public Corporation; BOARD OF SUPERVISORS of said district, ALEXANDER E. RUBELING, President; ALEXANDER E. RUBELING, JESS M. BARNETT, EDWARD A. LAUMANN, Supervisors and H.O. HENDRICKS, Secretary of the Board of Supervisors.
No. 31656.
Supreme Court of Missouri.
Court en Banc, March 21, 1933.

[58 S.W.2d 989]

Mandamus.

WRIT QUASHED.

Elliott W. Major and Jesse L. Harnage for relators.

(1) The Act of 1931 is invalid because it violates Section 4, Article II of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, in that it fails to promote the general welfare of the people and denies to the citizens in the district the natural legal rights to enjoy the gains of their own industry, and to have their properties protected and preserved. Sec. 4, Art. II, Const. of Mo.; State ex inf. v. Curtis, 319 Mo. 316; State ex rel. Wyatt v. Ashbrook, 154 Mo. 375; St. Louis v. Glover, 210 Mo. 502; Morrison v. Morey, 146 Mo. 543; City of Lancaster v. Reed, 207 S.W. 868; Greenwood v. Railroad Co., 105 U.S. 13, 26 L. Ed. 961. (2) It is invalid because it violates Section 15 of Article II of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, and which prohibits the passage of any law by the General Assembly of the State which is ex post facto, or impairs the obligation of contracts, or which is retrospective in its operation. The contracts were valid when made. Sec. 15, Art. II, Const. of Mo.; Society for Propagation of the Gospel v. Wheeler, 2 Gall. Fed. Case 13, 156; Crump v. Guyer, 157 Pac. 321; St. Louis to Use, etc., v. Clemens, 52 Mo. 144; Leete v. Bank, 115 Mo. 199; Smith v. Dirckx, 283 Mo. 198; Reed v. Swan, 133 Mo. 108; Rucking Const. Co. v. Withernell, 290 Mo. 558; Gast Realty & Inv. Co. v. Schneider, 296 Mo. 700; Hawkins v. Smith, 242 Mo. 688, 147 S.W. 1042; Greenwood App. v. Railroad Co., 105 U.S. 13, 26 L. Ed. 961; Gladney v. Sydnor, 172 Mo. 318; State ex inf. v. Curtis, 319 Mo. 316; District v. Turney, 235 Mo. 80; State ex rel. v. Hughes, 296 Mo. 1; Hendrickson v. Apperson, 245 U.S. 105, 62 L. Ed. 178; Cole v. Drainage Dist. 270 U.S. 46, 70 L. Ed. 463; Olcott v. Supervisors, 83 U.S. 382. (3) It is invalid because it violates Section 21 of Article II of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, in that it takes private property for public uses without just compensation. This provision is self-enforcing. Taking property by the organization of drainage districts is a judicial question. Sec. 21, Art. II, Const. of Mo.; Thurston v. St. Joseph, 51 Mo. 510; State ex rel. v. West, 272 Mo. 304; Smith v. Sedalia, 152 Mo. 283; State ex rel. v. McKelvey, 301 Mo. 1; McGrew v. Ry. Co., 230 Mo. 496. (4) It is invalid because it violates Section 30 of Article II of the Constitution of Missouri, in that it deprives the citizens of this public corporation, or sewer district, of their property without due process of law. "Due process of law" means that every citizen shall hold his life, liberty, property and immunities under the protection of the general laws governing society, and that in a contest regarding these rights he shall be accorded the right and opportunity to contest each step. He must have his day in court. "Due process of law" is equivalent to "the law of the land." The fundamental principles of private rights must be administered by a competent tribunal having jurisdiction of the case and proceeding upon notice and hearing. This right has been guaranteed and protected by every court in the State and Nation in thousands of cases, and it would be but a waste of time to cite them. The court is fully advised upon this constitutional guarantee in both State and Federal Constitutions. When the Wellston Sewer District was organized by court decree each citizen therein acquired property rights which the Legislature cannot destroy by repealing the law under which it was judicially organized. Sec. 30, Art. II, Const. of Mo.; Due Process of Law, Lucius Polk McGehee, ch. 1, p. 1; St. Louis v. Mo. Pac. Ry. Co., 278 Mo. 205, 211 S.W. 671; Munden v. Harris, 153 Mo. App. 652; Ludlow-Saylor Wire Co. v. Wallbrink, 275 Mo. 239; McAllester v. Prichard, 287 Mo. 494; State v. Julow, 129 Mo. 163; Presbytery v. First Pres. Church, 80 N.J.L. 572, 78 Atl. 210; Royston v. Miller, 76 Fed. 53; Kock v. Mo. L. Trust Co., 181 S.W. 44; McGhee v. Walsh, 249 Mo. 266; State ex rel. v. Ashbrook, 154 Mo. 375; Hawkins v. Smith, 242 Mo. 688, 147 S.W. 1042; State ex rel. v. McKelvey, 301 Mo. 1; State ex rel. v. North, 304 Mo. 607; In re Flukes, 157 Mo. 125. (5) It is invalid because it violates Section 28 of Article IV of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, in that the object and purpose of the Act of 1931 is not clearly expressed in its title; in fact, the title to the act, and which is the legislative eye, does not and did not inform the Legislature what was the purpose of the act and what calamity it would visit upon the people in respect to their contracts, their vested rights, the rights of property and the public welfare. The subject-matter of the act is not even referred to or mentioned in the title. So far as the title gave information to the Legislature, it might as well have had no title. Each case must be decided according to its own peculiar facts. Sec. 28, Article IV, Const. of Mo.; State ex rel. v. Gideon, 277 Mo. 356; Nitzmann v. Railroad, 131 Mo. 612; In re Burris, 66 Mo. 442; State v. Sloan, 258 Mo. 305; State v. Hurley, 258 Mo. 275; State ex inf. v. Imhoff, 291 Mo. 603. (6) It is invalid because it violates Section 53 of Article IV of the Constitution of the State of Missouri, in that it is a special and local law, and which is prohibited by various of the thirty-three prohibitions positively contained in said section and article. It violates subdivisions 1, 32 and 33 of said section. Sec. 53, Art. IV, Const. of Mo.; In re Flukes, 157 Mo. 125. (7) It is invalid and unconstitutional because the act is indefinite and uncertain, in that it requires the payment of costs and obligations, past and future, with reference to this sewer district and that without telling how or when and without chart or compass to guide. It undertakes to repeal, and yet does not repeal. It undertakes to amend, and yet the Legislature cannot amend and repeal at the same time. To say the least, the act is a monument of legislative folly and an exhibition of the want of legislative knowledge. In its frailties it is unique and absolutely alone. It contradicts itself. State v. Street Railway Co., 146 Mo. 168; State v. Partlow, 91 N.C. 552; Drake v. Drake, 4 Dev. 115; Ward v. Ward, 37 Tex. 392; Sutherland on Statutory Const., secs. 261, 431. (8) It is invalid because vested property rights of the citizens of the Wellston Sewer District are involved and which were acquired prior to the passage and approval of the so-called Repeal Law of 1931, and they cannot be disturbed, destroyed or abated by this said act of the Legislature. To do so would violate Section 30, Article II, of the Constitution of Missouri, and Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, by taking property without "due process of law." Sec. 30, Art. II, Const. of Mo.; Sec. 1 of Fourteenth Amendment to Const. of U.S.; McManus v. Park, 287 Mo. 109; McGhee v. Walsh, 249 Mo. 266; Yellow Creek Drg. Dist. of Chariton Co., 240 S.W. 203; State v. Julow, 129 Mo. 174; Hawkins v. Smith, 242 Mo. 688, 147 S.W. 1042; Presbytery v. First Presby. Church, 80 N.J.L. 572, 78 Atl. 210; Gladney v. Sydnor, 172 Mo. 318; Munden v. Harris, 153 Mo. App. 652; Wire Co. v. Wallbrink, 275 Mo. 239; McAllester v. Prichard, 287 Mo. 494; Kock v. Mo. L. Trust Co., 181 S.W. 44; State ex rel. v. Ashbrook, 154 Mo. 275; Fall River Irrigation Ditch v. Mt. Shasta, 259 Pac. 44; Cassard v. Tracy, 27 So. 374, 52 La. Ann. 834, 49 A.L.R. 272; Hoeft v. Sup. L. Knights of Honor, 45 Pac. 186, 113 Cal. 91, 33 L.R.A. 174; Fisher's Negroes v. Dabbs, 14 Tenn. 154; Young v. Jones, 54 N.E. 235, 180 Ill. 216; Grinder v. Nelson, 9 Gill, 299, 52 Am. Dec. 694; Royston v. Miller, 76 Fed. 53; 40 Cyclopedia of Law and Procedure, 199. (9) It is invalid because it violates Section 2 of Article IV of the Constitution of the United States, in that it denies to the citizens of the Wellston Sewer District, a public corporation, the rights, privileges and immunities enjoyed by the citizens in the several states. This includes property rights. Sec. 2, Art. IV, Const. of U.S.; State ex rel. v. Ashbrook, 154 Mo. 375. (10) It is invalid because it violates Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in that it abridges the rights and privileges and immunities of the citizens of the Wellston Sewer District, who are citizens of the United States, and also deprives the citizens and persons of the said sewer district of their vested rights and of their properties without due process of law, and it also denies to the citizens of this sewer district the equal protection of the law. This includes and protects all kinds of property rights. Sec. 1 of Fourteenth Amendment, Const. U.S.; In re Flukes, 157 Mo. 125; U.S. Code Ann. Const. 14th Amend., pp. 3, 421; Buchanon v. Worley, 245 U.S. 60, 62 L. Ed. 149; Ins. Co. v. Cheek, 259 U.S. 530, 66 L. Ed. 1044. (11) The Legislature cannot invade the province of the judicial department. The benefits property rights, guarantees, etc., acquired by the citizens when the court established the sewer district cannot be impaired, modified, dissolved or destroyed by the act of the Legislature. The Act of 1931 is therefore invalid and violates Article III of the Constitution of the State of Missouri. State ex inf. v. Curtis, 319 Mo. 335; State ex rel. Marshall v. Bugg, 224 Mo. 537; In re Yellow Creek Drg. Dist., 240 S.W. 203; Hauck v. Little River Drainage Dist., 248 Mo. 373, 239 U.S. 254; Hawkins v. Smith, 242 Mo. 688; McNichol v....

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4 practice notes
  • Fisher v. State Highway Com'n of Mo., No. 79284
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 17, 1997
    ...27-28 [2, 3] (1938); Moyer v. Orek Coal Co., 78 S.W.2d 107, 107-08 (Mo.1934); State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist., 332 Mo. 547, 58 S.W.2d 988, 992 (1933); Mellon v. Stockton & Lampkin, 326 Mo. 129, 30 S.W.2d 974, 975 (1930); State ex rel. Knese v. Kinsey, 314 Mo. 80, 282 S.W. 4......
  • State ex rel. Missouri Highway and Transp. Com'n v. Horine, No. 71339
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1989
    ...Drainage Dist. of Chariton County, 275 S.W. 44, 46, 310 Mo. 171 (1925); State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist. of St. Louis County, 58 S.W.2d 988, 992, 332 Mo. 547 (banc 1933). Second, where a landowner whose property is not being condemned anticipates damage to his property as the re......
  • AG Processing, Inc. v. South St. Joseph Indus. Sewer Dist., No. WD
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 26, 1996
    ...dealing with a municipality but a public corporation. § 249.777(1), RSMo 1994; State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist., 332 Mo. 547, 58 S.W.2d 988, 991 (Mo. banc 1933). It seems inappropriate to hold a public sewer district to any higher or any different standard than a municipal sewer......
  • Duckett Sewer v. Golden Triangle Dev.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 21, 2000
    ...Creek is a "municipal corporation" under Missouri law, State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist. of St. Louis County, 58 S.W.2d 988, 991 (Mo. banc 1933), and is therefore subject to the section 432.070 statute of frauds. Section 432.070 provides: No county, city, town . . . mun......
7 cases
  • Fisher v. State Highway Com'n of Mo., No. 79284
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 17, 1997
    ...27-28 [2, 3] (1938); Moyer v. Orek Coal Co., 78 S.W.2d 107, 107-08 (Mo.1934); State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist., 332 Mo. 547, 58 S.W.2d 988, 992 (1933); Mellon v. Stockton & Lampkin, 326 Mo. 129, 30 S.W.2d 974, 975 (1930); State ex rel. Knese v. Kinsey, 314 Mo. 80, 282 S.W. 437, ......
  • West Highway Sanitary and Imp. Dist., In re, No. 2785
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 29, 1957
    ...the case of Armstrong v. Sewer Improvement Dist. No. 1, supra. In State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer[77 Wyo. 406] Dist., 332 Mo. 547, 58 S.W.2d 988, 991, the court referring to sewer districts 'That they are governmental agencies created through an exercise of the police power is well e......
  • State ex rel. Missouri Highway and Transp. Com'n v. Horine, No. 71339
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1989
    ...Drainage Dist. of Chariton County, 275 S.W. 44, 46, 310 Mo. 171 (1925); State ex rel. Becker v. Wellston Sewer Dist. of St. Louis County, 58 S.W.2d 988, 992, 332 Mo. 547 (banc 1933). Second, where a landowner whose property is not being condemned anticipates damage to his property as the re......
  • State ex rel. Allen v. Martin
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • April 14, 1970
    ...in the exercise of its police power.' 221 N.W. at 866. See, also, State ex rel. Becker et al. v. Wellston Sewer District, 332 Mo. 547, 58 S.W.2d 988 (1933); State v. City of Elizabeth, 54 N.J.Law 462, 24 A. 495 (1892); Clayton & Lambert Mfg. Co. v. City of Detroit (E.D.Mich. 1929) 34 F.2d T......
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