Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore Case Brief

Summary of Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 243 (1833)

Facts: Barron believed that municipal street construction by the City had diverted the flow of streams which caused silt deposits in front of his warf. This made the water too shallow for boats to moor up which caused his business to cease.

Issue(s): Whether the protections of 5th Amend of the U.S. Const. apply to the citizens agasint the actions of state government?

Holding: The Just Compensation provision of the 5th is intended solely as a limit on the exercise of power by the federal government, and not applicable to the legislation of the states.

Procedure: Barron sued City of Baltimore. Cnty Ct granted verdict for Barron $45K. State Circuit Ct reversed. Writ of Error U.S. S.Ct. C: No jurisdiction over the case.

Rule(s): 5th Amendment

Rationale: The U.S. Const was established by the people of the U.S. for themselves, for their government, and not for the government of the individual states. Each state enacted their own constitution to provide specific limitations and restrictions on its own governments. The powers conferred under the federal constitution were to be exercised by that government. Any limitations granted therein are not limitation on distinct state governments. The 5th Amend. must be understood as a general limit on the power of the general government, and not applicable to the states. Had the framers intended such a result, they would have included that intention.

Pl’s A: The state court failed to protect Pl’s property under the Fifth Amendment’s Just Compensation Clause.

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