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U.S. Supreme Court

Moore-Mansfield Constr. Co. v. Electrical Co., 234 U.S. 619 (1914)

Moore-Mansfield Construction Company

v. Electrical Installation Company

No. 358

Argued May 5, 1914

Decided June 22, 1914

234 U.S. 619


A case otherwise within the jurisdiction of the district court of the United States and reviewable in the circuit court of appeals is not a case which may come direct to this Court under § 238, Judicial Code, merely because, in the course of the case, a question has arisen as to whether a change in decision of the state court as to the effect chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 234 U. S. 620

and scope of a state statute amount to an impairment of the obligation of a contract.

Courts of the United States are courts of independent jurisdiction, and when a question arises in a United States court as to the effect of a change of decision which detrimentally affects contracts, rights, and obligations entered into before such change, such right and obligations should be determined by the law as judicially construed at the time the rights accrued.

Federal courts in such a case, while leaning to the view of the state court in regard to the validity or the interpretation of a statute, should exercise an independent judgment, and not necessarily follow state decisions rendered subsequently to the arising of the contract rights involved.

Where the district court errs in following later decisions of the state court, rather than those rendered prior to the making of the contract, the error may be corrected by the circuit court of appeals or by this Court under writ of certiorari, but not by direct appeal to this Court.

A change in decision of the state court in reference to the scope of a state statute held in this case not to be a law impairing the obligation of a contract.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court of direct appeals from the district court under § 247, Judicial Code, are stated in the opinion.

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