Anderson v. Santa Anna

In Anderson v. Santa Anna, 116 U.S. 356 (1886), the Supreme Court had occasion to consider the validity of so much of the act of the legislature of Illinois of February 28, 1867, in reference to municipal subscriptions to the stock of the Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad Company, as declared that where elections had been held, and a majority of the legal voters of any township or incorporated town declared in favor of a subscription to the stock of that company, "then and in that case no other election need be held, and the amount so voted for shall be subscribed" as in that act provided; further, "that such elections are hereby declared to be legal and valid," as though that act had been in force at the time thereof, and all its provisions had been complied with. An election was held in the township of Santa Anna, July 21, 1866, but there was no authority of law for its being held. It was, however, conducted in the customary mode, and the proposition for a subscription was sustained by a majority of the legal voters of the township. The subscription was made October 1, 1867, in pursuance of that vote, and of the curative act of February 28, 1867. The validity of bonds issued in payment of the subscription was disputed upon the ground that the last named act was in violation of the constitution of Illinois. The Supreme Court held, in accordance with numerous decisions of this court cited in the opinion, that subsequent legislative ratification of the acts of a municipal corporation, which might lawfully have been performed under legislative sanction in the first instance, was equivalent to original authority. The Supreme Court referred, in that case, to United States Mortgage Co. v. Gross, 93 Ill. 483, 484, where the Supreme Court of Illinois said, that "unless there be a constitutional inhibition, a legislature has power, when it interferes with no vested right, to enact retrospective statutes to validate invalid contracts or to ratify and confirm any act it might lawfully have authorized in the first instance."