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City of Glendale v. White

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 1, 1948

CITY OF GLENDALE et al.
v.
WHITE

Appeal from Superior Court, Maricopa County; Walter J. Thalheimer, Judge.

Reversed and remanded.

John W. Corbin, City Atty., of Glendale, and Kramer, Morrison, Roche & Perry, Special Counsel, of Phoenix, for appellants.

Richard S. Gilmore and C. A. McKee, both of Glendale, for appellee.

Francis J. Riley and George Read Carlock, both of Phoenix, amici curiae.

Udall, Justice. Stanford, C. J., and La Prade, J., concur.

OPINION

Udall, Justice.

Page 436

[67 Ariz. 233] On this appeal we are presented again with the problem as to whether a municipality can lawfully expend its funds for membership dues in the Arizona Municipal League.

This action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, was brought by Howard D. White (appellee), a citizen and taxpayer of the City of Glendale, against the city and certain of its officers (appellants) challenging the legality of contributing public funds toward the support and maintenance of the league. The trial court, doubtless deeming itself bound by the majority decision of this Court in the case of City of Phoenix v. Michael, 61 Ariz. 238, 148 P.2d 353, granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, declared such contributions illegal and enjoined the defendants from making further payments to the league. The facts are nowise in dispute.

The defendants make but one assignment of error which reads:

Page 437

"The Superior Court erred in rendering judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants, because, under the undisputed facts and the law thereunto applicable, the City of Glendale has the right to be a member of the Arizona Municipal League, to avail itself of services rendered by the league, and to contribute proportionately to defray the necessary expenses of the League."

and submit in support thereof this single proposition of law:

"An incorporated city may lawfully expend its public funds for membership dues in a cooperative, non-profit association organized and existing for the sole purpose of furnishing municipal services to the cities and towns comprising its membership. Such disbursements are justified as expenditures for a lawful public purpose."

We are, therefore, confronted with the same questions that arose in the Michael case, supra; (1) is the purpose for which the city proposes to expend its moneys a public purpose; and (2) if this question [67 Ariz. 234] be answered in the affirmative, does the city charter or the general law authorize the city to expend its moneys for such purpose?

In the Michael case, supra, the majority of this Court, as then constituted, held that such an expenditure was illegal as not being for a public purpose, hence there was no occasion to entirely pass upon the second question. If we are to blindly adhere to the rule of stare decisis the judgment of the lower court in the instant case should be affirmed as the only difference in the situation now and then is that the municipality there involved was a home-rule city and the league has since amended its constitution by omitting therefrom the offending Article "C" which read:

"To secure legislation which would be beneficial to the municipalities of the state and the citizens thereof and to oppose legislation injurious thereto."

which came in for particular condemnation by this Court in the Michael case, supra.

We readily agree with the late Justice Cardozo,

"* * * adherence to precedent should be the rule and not the exception. * * * labor of judges would be increased almost to the breaking point if every past decision could be reopened in every case, and one could not lay one's own course of bricks on the secure foundation of the courses laid by others who had gone before him * * *." The Nature of the Judicial Process, by Cardozo, p. 149.

However where, as here, no property rights have become vested in reliance upon the old rule there is much less hesitancy upon the part of an appellate court to reconsider the correctness of its former ...


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