224 U.S. 217 (1912), 914, Haskell v. Kansas Natural Gas Company

Docket Nº:No. 914
Citation:224 U.S. 217, 32 S.Ct. 442, 56 L.Ed. 738
Party Name:Haskell v. Kansas Natural Gas Company
Case Date:April 01, 1912
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 217

224 U.S. 217 (1912)

32 S.Ct. 442, 56 L.Ed. 738



Kansas Natural Gas Company

No. 914

United States Supreme Court

April 1, 1912

Submitted February 23, 1912




Natural gas, after severance from the soil, being a commodity which may be dealt in like other products of the earth and a legitimate subject of interstate commerce, no state can prohibit its being transported in interstate commerce beyond the lines of the state, and the act of Oklahoma attempting so to do is an unconstitutional interference with interstate commerce as held in this case, 221 U.S. 229.

A state may by proper legislation regulate the removal from the earth of natural gas by the owner thereof, but may not discriminate against corporations doing an interstate business by denying them the right to cross highways of the state while domestic corporations engaged in the same business are permitted to use the highways.

Regulations in a state statute which may be valid as to individuals and domestic corporations engaged in business wholly within the state are not applicable to corporations engaged in doing the same business in interstate commerce when the statute expressly forbids such commerce; this Court will not, therefore, direct that regulations of that nature become applicable to the latter class of such corporations because the prohibition has been declared unconstitutional as an interference with interstate commerce.

A decree of this Court must be read in view of the issues made and the relief sought and granted, and a decree declaring a state statute unconstitutional so far as it prohibits, or is a burden upon, interstate commerce will not be construed as preventing the enforcement of such legislation as is legitimately within the police power of the state and not in conflict with the federal Constitution.

172 F. 545 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the decree entered in this case and reported in 221 U.S. 229, are stated in the opinion.

Page 218

DAY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the Court.

The appellees in this case brought suit in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Oklahoma against the appellants, who were the Governor, Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, County Attorney and Deputy County Attorney of Washington County, Corporation Commissioners and Mine Inspector, of the State of Oklahoma, to enjoin the enforcement of certain statutes of the State of Oklahoma, which undertook to prevent the complainants, now appellees, from transporting natural gas in interstate commerce beyond the borders of the State of Oklahoma. Upon final hearing in that court, such statutes were held void as against the Constitution of the United States, and the enforcement thereof was enjoined. The case came to this Court on appeal, and was argued and decided at the October Term, 1910, being reported in 221 U.S. 229.

On May 29, 1911, the last day of the term, a motion was made in this Court by the Attorney General of Oklahoma to modify the affirmance of the decree in the court below. The parts objected to are found in the margin. *

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This motion was overruled, with leave to either party to apply [32 S.Ct. 443] to the circuit court from whence the case came for such modification of the decree as would make it conform to the opinion of this Court. Thereafter, the present proceeding was instituted by the Attorney General's filing a motion in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Oklahoma for the modification of such decree. The former complainants, defendants in this proceeding, appeared and filed a motion in the nature of a demurrer, and also filed an answer in the case. The circuit court, treating the pleadings of the defendants as in the nature of a demurrer, without hearing evidence in support of or against the granting of the motion, and without considering the affidavits or exhibits filed, overruled

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the same, and ordered the mandate of this Court affirming the former decree to be spread upon the records. Thereupon this appeal was prosecuted.

In order to properly consider this motion, it is necessary to notice the holding in the case in 221 U.S., supra. The original proceeding was brought to enjoin the officers of the State of Oklahoma from preventing the carriage in interstate commerce, beyond the lines of the state, of natural gas which had been severed from the earth by the owners of such gas, and particularly to enjoin the enforcement of a certain statute of the state, passed in 1907, known as chapter 67 of the Session Laws of Oklahoma, 1907-08, which...

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