252 U.S. 341 (1920), 208, Hiawassee River Power Company v. Carolina-Tennessee Power Company

Docket Nº:No. 208
Citation:252 U.S. 341, 40 S.Ct. 330, 64 L.Ed. 601
Party Name:Hiawassee River Power Company v. Carolina-Tennessee Power Company
Case Date:March 22, 1920
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 341

252 U.S. 341 (1920)

40 S.Ct. 330, 64 L.Ed. 601

Hiawassee River Power Company

v.

Carolina-Tennessee Power Company

No. 208

United States Supreme Court

March 22, 1920

Argued January 30, 1920

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA

Syllabus

The question whether a special act of a state legislature chartering a power company contravenes the equal protection and privileges and immunities clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it grants powers of eminent domain not conferred on a rival company organized under a general law is not necessarily decided by a ruling of a state trial court, in a suit by the former company against the latter to quiet title, admitting the special charter in evidence over defendant's objection that it is void under the state bill of rights and constitution and violates the Fourteenth Amendment, nor is such question raised in the state supreme court by an assignment alleging merely that the trial court erred in admitting such evidence, and not mentioning the Amendment. P. 342.

A constitutional question not presented by assignment of errors or otherwise, or passed upon, in the state supreme court does not afford jurisdiction under Jud.Code, § 237; an attempt to raise it by the petition for a writ of error from this Court and the assignment filed here is too late, and allowance of the writ by the chief justice of the state court does not cure the omission. P. 343.

Writ of error to review 175 N.Car. 668 dismissed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 342

BRANDEIS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Carolina-Tennessee Power Company, a public utility, was incorporated by a private law of North Carolina with broad powers, including that of taking by eminent domain riparian lands of and water rights in any nonnavigable stream of the state. It filed locations for two hydroelectric plants on the Hiawassee River and proceeded to acquire by purchase and by condemnation the lands and water rights necessary for that development. Thereafter, the Hiawassee River Power Company was organized under the general laws of the state, and threatened to locate and develop on that river hydroelectric plants which would necessarily interfere with the development undertaken by the Carolina-Tennessee Company. The latter brought in the Superior Court of Cherokee County a suit in the nature of a bill to quiet title. The case was tried in that court with the aid of a jury. Many issues of fact were raised, and many questions of state law presented. A decree entered for the plaintiff below was reversed by the supreme court of the state, and a new trial was ordered. ...

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