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U.S. Supreme Court

Banning Company v. California, 240 U.S. 142 (1916)

Banning Company v. California

No. 73

Argued January 19, 1916

Decided February 21, 1916

240 U.S. 142


The withdrawal from sale of lands by a state before any right is consummated does not amount to the impairment of the obligation of a contract within the meaning of Article I, § 10 of the federal Constitution.

While an offer made by a state, though no particular person be designated, and accepted, may constitute a contract protected by the federal Constitution, the offer and acceptance must have the characteristics of a bargain and be conventional counterparts.

Where a state makes a general offer to sell and provides for contest and determination of conflicting claims of parties contending for the right to purchase, the state is not bound by its offer or precluded from withdrawing it until the rightful claimant is determined and his right of purchase perfected by payment of at least an installment of the price thereof.

Expenditures, other than payment to the state, by one intending to accept a general offer of a state to sell public lands are but voluntary chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 240 U. S. 143

qualifications to become a purchaser, and are not binding on him to proceed to purchase or on the state to wait for him to purchase.

Although the statute of California of 1863 gave private parties the right to acquire tidelands under certain conditions, the right was abrogated by later statutes and the Constitution of 1879, and such abrogation was not unconstitutional under the Contract Clause of the Constitution as to one who had not paid any part of the purchase price prior thereto.

169 Cal. 542 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the contract clause of the federal Constitution of legislation of California and provisions of the Constitution of 1870 withdrawing state lands from sale are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 240 U. S. 145

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