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U.S. Supreme Court

Elder v. Colorado ex Rel. Badgley, 204 U.S. 85 (1907)

Elder v. Colorado ex Rel. Badgley

No. 132

Argued December 11, 1906

Decided January 7, 1907

204 U.S. 85


A mere contest over a state office dependent for its solution exclusively upon the application of the constitution of the state or upon a mere construction of a provision of a state law involves no federal question. Taylor v. Beckham, 178 U. S. 548.

The fact that a state court has considered a federal question may serve to elucidate whether a federal issue properly arises, but that doctrine has no application where the controversy is inherently not federal, and is incapable of presenting a federal question.

Writ of error to review 86 P. 250 dismissed.

This was a proceeding in the nature of quo warranto brought in a district (state) court of Colorado to test, as between conflicting claimants (Charles W. Badgley and Charles S. Elder), the title to the office of County Treasurer of the City and County of Denver. The relator (Badgley) relied upon a general election held pursuant to the general statutes of Colorado on November 8, 1904, while the defendant (Elder) claimed to be the legal incumbent of the office by virtue of his election to the office of treasurer of the City and County of Denver in May, 1904, under authority of the Charter of said City and County of Denver. The question presented for decision was whether the election held in May, 1904, under the charter, of officers to perform

Page 204 U. S. 86

the duties required of county officers in the City and County of Denver, was lawful, or whether such officers should have been voted for under the general statutes of the state at the election held in November, 1904. A determination of this question made necessary a consideration of certain provisions of Article 20 of the state constitution, providing for the creation, from the old County of Arapahoe and the old City of Denver and other municipalities, of a new entity to be known as the City and County of Denver, and conferring authority to provide in the charter for the appointment or election of officers of such city and county. In particular, a construction was required of a clause providing that

"every charter shall designate the officers who shall respectively perform the acts and duties required of county officers to be done by the constitution or the general laws, as far as applicable."

The district court sustained a demurrer to the complaint and entered judgment for the defendant. This judgment was reversed by the supreme court of the state, upon the authority of People ex Rel. Miller v. Johnson, 86 P. 233, and judgment was entered in that court in favor of the relator, 86 P. 250, deciding in effect that the charter provision under which defendant claimed was repugnant to the Constitution of Colorado. The case was then brought here.

Page 204 U. S. 87

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