BAUMAN V. ROSS, 167 U. S. 548 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bauman v. Ross, 167 U.S. 548 (1897)

Bauman v. Ross

Nos. 631-634

Argued December 16-17, 1896

Decided May 10, 1897

167 U.S. 548


Under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which declares "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation," Congress may direct that, when part of a parcel of land is appropriated to the public use for a highway in the District of Columbia, the tribunal vested by law with the duty of assessing the compensation or damages due to the owner, whether for the value of the part taken or for any injury to the rest, shall take into consideration, by way of lessening the whole or either part of the sum due him, any special and direct benefits, capable of present estimate and reasonable computation, caused by the establishment of the highway to the part not taken.

By the Constitution of the United States, the estimate of the just compensation for property taken for the public use under the right of eminent

Page 167 U. S. 549

domain is not required to be made by a jury, but may be entrusted to commissioners appointed by a court or by the executive, or to an inquest consisting of more or fewer men than an ordinary jury.

Congress, in the exercise of the right of taxation in the District of Columbia, may direct that half of the amount of the compensation or damages awarded to the owners of lands appropriated to the public use for a highway shall be assessed and charged upon the District of Columbia, and the other half upon the lands benefited thereby within the District, in proportion to the benefit, and may commit the ascertainment of the lands to be assessed, and the apportionment of the benefits among them, to the same tribunal which assesses the compensation or damages.

If the legislature, in taxing lands benefited by a highway or other public improvement, makes provision for notice, by publication or otherwise, to each owner of land, and for hearing him at some stage of the proceedings upon the question what proportion of the tax shall be assessed upon his land, his property is not taken without due process of law.

The recording by public authority of a map of a proposed system of highways within certain territory, without restricting the use or improvement of lands before the commencement of proceedings for their condemnation for such highways or limiting the damages to be awarded in such proceedings, does not of itself entitle the owners of lands to compensation or damages.

An act of Congress providing for the estimate of damages for taking lands for highways in the District of Columbia and for the assessment of such damages, with interest, upon lands benefited by the highways is not invalidated by a provision that the proceedings shall be void if Congress, after being six months in session, shall make no appropriation for the payment of the damages.

The Act of March 2, 1893, c.197, entitled "An act to provide for a permanent system of highways in that part of the District of Columbia lying outside of cities," is constitutional and valid.

These were appeals in proceedings commenced by petition of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia for the condemnation of a permanent right of way for the public over certain subdivisions of lands in the District of Columbia, outside the limits of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, under the Act of March 2, 1893, c.197. 27 Stat. 532. The cases involved the constitutionality of that act. They were argued together, and are stated in the opinion.

Page 167 U. S. 550

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