Union Pacific R. Co. v. Snow - 231 U.S. 204 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
Union Pacific R. Co. v. Snow, 231 U.S. 204 (1913)
Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Snow
Submitted October 14, 1913
Decided December 1, 1913
231 U.S. 204
Courts will not enforce a literal interpretation of a statute if antecedent rights are affected or human conduct given a consequence the statute did not intend.
Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Laramie Stock Yards, ante, p. 231 U. S. 190, followed to effect that the Act of June 24, 1912, c. 181, 37 Stat. 138, permitting state statutes of limitation to apply to adverse possession of portions of the right of way granted to railroads under the Act of July 1, 1862, did not have retroactive effect.
Courts are repelled from giving such a construction to a statute as will raise grave doubts of its legality as well as of its justice.
The Act of June 24, 1912, did not amount to a forfeiture of that part of the right of way granted under the Act of July 1, 1862, not actually occupied by the railroads; quaere whether such a construction of the Act of 1912 would not render it illegal.
133 P. 1037 reversed.
The facts, which involve the construction and application of the Railroad Land Grant Act of July 1, 1862, and the Act of June 24, 1912, and the extent of rights claimed to have been acquired under the latter act by adverse possession in a railroad right of way, are stated in the opinion.