Van Dyke v. Geary
244 U.S. 39 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Van Dyke v. Geary, 244 U.S. 39 (1917)

Van Dyke v. Geary

No. 52

Argued March 23, 1917

Decided May 7, 1917

244 U.S. 39

Syllabus

In a case governed by Judicial Code, § 266, where the jurisdiction of the district court is invoked upon constitutional questions, this Court, upon appeal from an order denying preliminary injunction, has jurisdiction to review the whole case. Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Garrett,231 U. S. 298.

Extension of the power of the Corporation Commission to the regulation of water systems belonging to individuals, as provided in the Public Service Corporation Act of Arizona (Rev.Stats., 1913, Title 9, c. XI), is permitted by the Constitution of Arizona, Art. XV.

In the absence of an authoritative decision of the supreme court of the state to the contrary, a contemporaneous construction of the state constitution by an act of the legislature which is reasonable, in itself, and designed to accomplish the obvious purpose of the constitutional provision in question should be followed by this Court.

Art. IV, pt. 2, § 13, of the Arizona Constitution, requiring that acts of the legislature shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith, which subject shall be expressed in the title, is sufficiently complied with by the Arizona Public Service Corporation Act, supra, although that act applies to individuals as well as corporations, while its title refers to corporations and makes no mention of individuals.

One who uses his property in supplying a large community with water thereby clothes such property with a public interest and subjects the business to public regulation.

Where it is conceded that the purpose of a water system is to supply water to the residents and inhabitants of a particular townsite, though not to outsiders or the public generally, the mere fact that the lots of the townsite were originally purchased from the owner of the water system with the oral understanding that water could be secured from that system for use on the lots has no tendency to support the claim that the system furnishes water only to particular individuals

Page 244 U. S. 40

in pursuance of private contract made with such lot purchasers, and is hence devoted exclusively to private use.

The fact that service is limited to a part of a town does not prevent a water system from being a public utility.

Water rates fixed by a state commission upon a basis of a net annual return of 10% of the value of the property employed, allowing an annual depreciation charge of 3%, held not confiscatory, the valuation of the water system and estimate of operating expenses having been made by the state commission and concurred in by the district court after careful inquiry by both, the evidence presented to this Court being conflicting, and the district court having appropriately protected the complaining party by providing that application for injunction may be renewed after one year if the rates appear too low.

218 F. 111 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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