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U.S. Supreme Court

Wyandotte County Gas Co. v. Kansas, 231 U.S. 622 (1914)

Wyandotte County Gas Company v. Kansas

No. 472

Argued December 2, 1913

Decided January 5, 1914

231 U.S. 622


The fact that the determination of the question of power of the municipality to make the contract alleged to have been impaired involves consideration and construction of the laws of the state does not relieve this Court from the duty of determining for itself the scope and character of such contract.

While this Court, in determining whether there is a contract, is not bound by the construction of the state statutes by the state court, it will not lightly disregard such construction but will seek to uphold it chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 231 U. S. 623

so far as it can consistently with the duty to independently determine the question.

In this case, this Court reaches independently the same conclusion as the state court in determining that, under the authority conferred by the statutes of Kansas, the municipality cannot divest itself by contract of its duty to see that only reasonable rates are enforced under a public utility franchise.

A proviso in a public utility statute, in which manufactured gas, light, and water were enumerated, stating that municipalities were not prohibited from granting franchises for supplying natural gas on terms and conditions agreed to by it and the franchisee, construed as bringing natural gas within the statute, and that the terms and conditions on which the franchise could be granted were subject to the same limitations contained in the statute as applicable to franchises for other utilities.

8 Kan. 165 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the power of a municipality in Kansas to regulate charges for natural gas, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 231 U. S. 625

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