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Respublica v. Philip Urbin Duquet

2 Yeates 493 (1799)

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Respublica v. Philip Urbin Duquet

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

2 Yeates 493 (1799)

Facts

On March 11, 1789, the state of Pennsylvania (plaintiff) enacted an ordinance that provided cities with the power to make bylaws to support the governing and welfare of the city and to punish those who violated such laws and ordinances. On April 18, 1795, Pennsylvania enacted legislation that empowered the mayor and other elected municipal council members to pass ordinances at their discretion that prevented individuals from erecting various types of wooden buildings, including shops, stores, or mansions, within certain populous parts of Philadelphia. This legislation specified that incorporated cities may enact any ordinances to prevent individuals from erecting such wooden buildings as the cities saw fit. The corporation of the city of Philadelphia subsequently adopted an ordinance that gave the mayor’s court the power to try all violations of the prohibition on wooden-building construction. Philip Urbin Duquet (defendant) was charged with constructing a wooden structure in violation of Philadelphia’s ordinance. Duquet was prosecuted by indictment in the mayor’s court with the possibility of imprisonment. Duquet removed the case to federal court and challenged that the city of Philadelphia was not authorized to pass such an ordinance, and if it was, the ordinance was unconstitutional because the city only had the power to inflict pecuniary penalties.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shippen, J.)

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