196 U.S. 447 (1905), 13, Smiley v. Kansas

Docket Nº:No. 13
Citation:196 U.S. 447, 25 S.Ct. 289, 49 L.Ed. 546
Party Name:Smiley v. Kansas
Case Date:February 20, 1905
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 447

196 U.S. 447 (1905)

25 S.Ct. 289, 49 L.Ed. 546




No. 13

United States Supreme Court

February 20, 1905

Argued October 20-21, 1904




This Court will not inquire whether the finding of the jury in the state court is against the evidence; it will take the facts as found and consider only whether the state statute involved is violative of the federal Constitution.

The power in the state court to determine the meaning of a state statute carries with it the power to prescribe its extent and limitations, as well as the method by which they shall be determined.

Where the highest court of a state has held that the acts of a person convicted of violating a state statute defining and prohibiting trusts were clearly within both the statute and the police power of the state, and that the statute can be sustained as a prohibition of those acts irrespective of the question whether its language was broad enough to include acts beyond legislative control, this Court will accept such construction, although the state court may have ascertained the meaning, scope and validity of the statute by pursuing a rule of construction different from that recognized by this Court.

While there is a certain freedom of contract which the states cannot destroy by legislative enactment, in pursuance whereof parties may seek to further their business interests, the police power of the states extends to, and may prohibit a secret arrangement by which, under penalties, and without any merging of interests through partnership or incorporation, an apparently existing competition among all the dealers in a community in one of the necessaries of life is substantially destroyed.

The Act of the Legislature of Kansas of March 8, 1897, defining and prohibiting trusts, is not in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution as to a person convicted thereunder of combining with others to pool and fix the price, divide the net earnings, and prevent competition in the purchase and sale of grain.

On March 8, 1897, the Legislature of Kansas passed an act, the first section of which is as follows:

SEC. 1. A trust is a combination of capital, skill, or acts by two or more persons, firms, corporations, or associations of persons, or either two or more of them, for either any or all of the following purposes: First. -- To create or carry out restrictions in trade or commerce or aids to commerce, or to

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carry out restrictions in the full and free pursuit of any business authorized or permitted by the laws of this state. Second. -- To increase or reduce the price of merchandise, produce, or commodities, or to control the cost or rates of insurance. Third. -- To prevent competition in the manufacture, making, transportation, sale, or purchase of merchandise, produce, or commodities, or to prevent competition in aids to commerce. Fourth. -- To fix any standard or figure whereby its price to the public shall be in any manner controlled or established, any article or commodity of merchandise, produce, or commerce intended for sale, use, or consumption in this state. Fifth. -- To make or enter into, or execute or carry out, any contract, obligation, or agreement of any kind or description by which they shall bind or have to bind themselves not to sell, manufacture, dispose of, or transport any article...

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