Edmund Smiley v. State of Kansas

Decision Date20 February 1905
Docket NumberNo. 13,13
PartiesEDMUND J. SMILEY, Plff. in Err. , v. STATE OF KANSAS
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

On March 8, 1897, the legislature of Kansas passed an act, the 1st 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 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 or commodity, or article of trade, use, merchandise, commerce, or consumption below a common standard figure, or by which they shall agree in any manner to keep the price of such article, commodity, or transportation at a fixed or graded figure, or by which they shall in any manner establish or settle the price of any article or commodity or transportation between them or themselves and others, to preclude a free and unrestricted competition among themselves or others in transportation, sale, or manufacture of any such article or commodity, or by which they shall agree to pool, combine, or unite any interest they may have in connection with the manufacture, sale, or transportation of any such article or commodity, that its price may in any manner be affected. And any such combinations are hereby declared to be against public policy, unlawful, and void.' Laws of Kansas, 1897, p. 481. [2 Kan. Gen. Stat. 1897, p. 791.]

Subsequent sections prescribe penalties, and provide procedure for enforcing the act. On September 27, 1901, the county attorney filed in the district court of Rush county, Kansas, an information charging that the defendant did, on November 20, 1900, 'then and there unlawfully enter into an agreement, contract, and combination, in the county of Rush and the state of Kansas, with divers and sundry persons, partnerships, companies, and corporations of grain dealers and grain buyers in the town of Bison, in the said county and state aforesaid, to wit, Humburg & Ahrens, the La Crosse Lumber & Grain Company, the Bison Milling Company, and George Weicken, who were at the said time and place competitive grain dealers and buyers, to pool and fix the price the said grain dealers and buyers should pay for grain at the said place, and to divide between them the net earnings of the said grain dealers and buyers, and to prevent competition in the purchase and sale of grain among the said dealers and buyers.' A trial was had, the defendant was found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of $500, and to imprisonment in the county jail for three months. On appeal to the supreme court of the state the judgment was affirmed. 65 Kan. 240, 69 Pac. 199. Whereupon this writ of error was sued out.


[Argument of Counsel from pages 449-452 intentionally omitted] Messrs.D. R. Hite,H. J. Bone, and O. C. Coleman for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court:

The verdict of the jury settles all questions of fact.

In Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Haber, 169 U. S. 613, 639, 42 L. ed. 878, 887, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 488, it is said: 'Much was said at the bar about the finding of the jury being against the evidence. We cannot enter upon such an inquiry. The facts must be taken as found by the jury, and this court can only consider whether the statute, as interpreted to the jury, was in violation of the Federal Constitution. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U. S. 226, 242, 246, 41 L. ed. 979, 986, 988, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 581.'

We pass, therefore, to a consideration of the questions of law. It is contended that the act of 1897 is in conflict with the 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution, in that it unduly infringes the freedom of contract; that it is too broad, and not sufficiently definite, and that while some things are denounced which may be within the police power of the state, yet its language reaches to and includes matters clearly beyond the limits of that power, and that there is no such separation or distinction between those within and those beyond as will enable the courts to declare one part valid and another part void. We quote from the brief of counsel for plaintiff in error:

'Section one goes entirely too far, and is an unwarranted attempt upon the part of the legislature to limit the rights of the individual in the matter of contracting and dealing with his fellow men. The liberty to contract is as much protected by the constitutional provisions above referred to as is the liberty of person, and any attempt to abridge or limit that right will be held void, unless such abridgment or limitation is necessary to preserve the peace and order of the community, or the life, liberty, and morals of individuals, in which cases it is held to be the proper exercise of the police power of the state.'

It may be conceded, for the purposes of this case, that the language of the 1st section is broad enough to include acts beyond the police power of the state, and the punishment of which would unduly infringe upon the freedom of contract. At any rate we shall not attempt to enter into any consideration of that question. The supreme court of the state held that the acts charged and proved against the defendant were clearly within the terms of the statute, as well as within the police power of the state; and that the statute could be sustained as a prohibition of those acts irrespective of the question whether its language was broad...

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69 cases
  • Young v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 2 Noviembre 1982
    ...must take the statute as though it read precisely as the highest court of the state has interpreted it."); Smiley v. Kansas, 196 U.S. 447, 455, 25 S.Ct. 289, 290, 49 L.Ed. 546 (1904). The defendant was tried in meticulous compliance with the mandates of Beck v. State, and that decision is T......
  • Shaw v. Fox
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    ...217 U.S. 563, 30 S.Ct. 578, 54 L.Ed. 883; Walsh v. Columbus, H. V. & A. R. Co., 176 U.S. 469, 20 S.Ct. 393, 44 L.Ed. 548; Smiley v. Kansas, 196 U.S. 447, 25 S.Ct. 289, S.Ct. 546. The officers hereafter elected under the act cannot complain of the section limiting their salaries to less than......
  • State v. Duluth Board of Trade
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    ...in order to prevent free competition. The authority to pass such laws arises out of the police power. In Smiley v. Kansas, 196 U. S. 447, 456, 25 Sup. Ct. 289, 49 L. Ed. 546, the court, in sustaining the Kansas statute, said: "A secret arrangement, by which, under penalties, an apparently e......
  • Nebbia v. People of State of New York, 531
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    • 5 Marzo 1934
    ...Van Camp & Sons v. American Can Co., 278 U.S. 245, 49 S.Ct. 112, 73 L.Ed. 311, 60 A.L.R. 1060. 33 State statutes: Smiley v. Kansas, 196 U.S. 447, 25 S.Ct. 289, 49 L.Ed. 546; National Cotton Oil Co. v. Texas, 197 U.S. 115, 25 S.Ct. 379, 49 L.Ed. 689; Waters-Pierce Oil Co. v. Texas (No. 1), 2......
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2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 98 No. 1, November 2022
    • 1 Noviembre 2022
    ...the choice of law). (34) See cases cited infra note 46. (35) Exxon Corp. v. Eagerton, 462 U.S. 176, 181 n.3 (1983). (36) Smiley v. Kansas, 196 U.S. 447, 455 (1905); see also Bell v. Morrison, 26 U.S. (1 Pet.) 351, 359-60 (1828) (referring to "the local state tribunals, whose rules of interp......
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    ...603, 606 (Kan. 1909). 5. State v. Glenn Lumber Co., 111 P. 484, 487 (Kan. 1910). 6. State v. Smiley, 69 P. 199, 207 (Kan. 1902), aff’d , 196 U.S. 447 (1905). 7. KAN. STAT. ANN. §§ 50-131 to -137. 8. Id . § 50-132. 9. Id . § 16-112. 10. 15 U.S.C. § 14. 11. KAN. STAT. ANN. § 50-149. 12. 2000 ......

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