Chastleton Corp. v. Sinclair
264 U.S. 543 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chastleton Corp. v. Sinclair, 264 U.S. 543 (1924)

Chastleton Corp. v. Sinclair

No. 467

Argued March 12, 13, 1924

Decided April 21, 1924

264 U.S. 543

Syllabus

1. The remedy by appeal from orders of the Rent Commission afforded by the District of Columbia Rent Act held not an adequate remedy at law precluding equity jurisdiction of a suit attacking an order upon the grounds that the statute itself is unconstitutional and that the order affects parties who were strangers to the proceedings in which it was made. P. 264 U. S. 547.

2. The Act of October 22, 1919, regulating rents in the District of Columbia, and upheld as an emergency measure in Block v. Hirsh,256 U. S. 135, was continued in force by a subsequent act until May 22, 1922, on which day a third act, declaring that the emergency still existed, reenacted the law with amendments and provided that it continue until May 22, 1924.

Held:

(a) A law depending upon the existence of an emergency or other certain state of facts to uphold it may cease to operate if the emergency ceases or the facts change. P. 264 U. S. 547.

(b) Where an order of the Rent Commission, although retrospective, was passed some time after the last of the above-mentioned statutes, it was open to the courts to inquire whether the exigency still existed upon which continued operation of the law depended. P. 264 U. S. 548.

(c) Allegations in the bill in this case that the emergency had ceased in 1922 cannot be declared offhand to be unmaintainable in view of judicial knowledge of present conditions in Washington. Id.

(d) This Court may ascertain as it sees fit any fact that is merely a ground for laying down a rule of law. Id.

(e) But where it was material to know conditions at different dates in the past, held that, for convenience, the facts should be gathered and weighed by the court of first instance and the evidence preserved for consideration by this Court if necessary. P. 264 U. S. 549.

290 F. 348 reversed.

Page 264 U. S. 544

Appeal from a decree of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia affirming a decree of the Supreme Court of the District which dismissed on motion a bill to restrain the enforcement of an order of the Rent Commission cutting down the rents in an apartment house.

Page 264 U. S. 546

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