FIFTH AVENUE COACH CO. V. NEW YORK, 221 U. S. 467 (1911)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fifth Avenue Coach Co. v. New York, 221 U.S. 467 (1911)

Fifth Avenue Coach Company v. City of New York

No. 159

Argued April 27, 28, 1911

Decided May 29, 1911

221 U.S. 467


The courts of a state are competent to construe the laws of the state and to determine what powers a corporation derives thereunder, and the use to which such corporation may employ its necessary property, and so held as to uses to which stages may be put by a transportation company.

Whatever the general rights as to corporate property may be, a state, in granting a charter, may define and limit the use of property necessary to the exercise of the granted powers.

The rights of one to do that which if done by all would work public harm and injury are not greater because others refrain from exercising such rights.

Classification based on reasonable distinctions is not an unconstitutional denial of equal protection of the laws, and so held that an

Page 221 U. S. 468

ordinance of the City of New York prohibiting advertising vehicles in a certain street is not unconstitutional as denying equal protection to a transportation company operating stages on such street either because signs of the owners may be displayed on business wagons or because another transportation company may display advertising signs on its structure. There is a purpose to be achieved, as well as a distinction, which justifies the classification.

This Court may take judicial notice of the density of traffic on a well known thoroughfare.

Where rights exist to one, they exist to all of the class to which that one belongs.

The charter of this transportation company held not to contain any provisions giving it such contract right to use its vehicles for advertising purposes as rendered a subsequent ordinance prohibiting such use unconstitutional under the contract clause of the Constitution.

A contract with a corporation is subject to the limitations of the charter rights of the corporation, and is not impaired within the meaning of the contract clause of the Constitution by subsequent legislation that does not extend such limitation.

194 N.Y. 19 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of an ordinance of the City of New York prohibiting the display of advertisements under certain conditions, are stated in the opinion.

Page 221 U. S. 476

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