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

  • Barron owned a wharf. The city of Baltimore started diverting water and Barron’s wharf became to shallow for boats to dock there.
    • There was no public hearing, and Barron was never given the opportunity to voice his objections.
  • Barron sued, claiming that this was a taking, and was not allowed under the 5th Amendment, which prohibited the taking of private property for public use without due process.
    • Baltimore argued that the 5th Amendment (like the entire Bill of Rights) was only applicable to the Federal government, not the States or local governments.
  • The US Supreme Court found for Baltimore.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the Bill of Rights only applies to the Federal government.
    • The Court noted that the States have their own constitutions, and if the citizens of Maryland didn’t like it, they were free to amend it to match what the Federal Constitution said.
  • Basically, under the original interpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights was only applicable to actions taken by the Federal government. It had no applicability to actions taken by State or local governments.