Columbia Railway, Gas & Elec. Co. v. South Carolina - 261 U.S. 236 (1923)
U.S. Supreme Court
Columbia Railway, Gas & Elec. Co. v. South Carolina, 261 U.S. 236 (1923)
Columbia Railway, Gas & Electric Company v. South Carolina
Argued January 26, 1923
Decided February 19, 1923
261 U.S. 236
1. Article I, § 10 of the Constitution affords no protection against impairment of the obligation of a contract by judicial decision. P. 261 U. S. 244.
2. But where a state court, though placing its decision upon the construction of a contract, in substance and effect gives force to a statute complained of as impairing the contract obligation, jurisdiction of this Court attaches. P. 261 U. S. 245.
3. A clause in a grant will be construed as a covenant if reasonably possible, rather than as a condition subsequent. P. 261 U. S. 248.
4. The fact that a legislative grant, upon valuable consideration, was made to attain a particular end cannot, in itself, debase the estate granted. P. 249.
5. The fact that such a grant makes express provision for forfeiture in case of default in one of the obligations imposed on the grantee is a strong reason against construing other obligations not so fortified as conditions subsequent. P. 261 U. S. 250.
6. A state statute which seeks to convert a covenant in a prior legislative contract into a condition subsequent, and to impose as a penalty for its violation the forfeiture of valuable property, impairs the obligation of the contract, and is void. P. 261 U. S. 251.
112 S.C. 528 reversed.
Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirming a judgment for the state in a suit to enforce a forfeiture of a grant and recover possession of the property for breach of an alleged condition subsequent.