Spring Valley Waterworks v. Schottler,
110 U.S. 347 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Spring Valley Waterworks v. Schottler, 110 U.S. 347 (1884)

Spring Valley Waterworks v. Schottler

Argued November 20-21, 1883

Decided February 4, 1884

110 U.S. 347


Laws requiring gas companies, water companies and other corporations of like character to supply their customers at prices fixed by the municipal authorities of the locality are within the scope of legislative power unless prohibited by constitutional limitation or valid contract obligation.

The constitution of a state provided that corporations might be formed under general laws, and should not be created by special act except for municipal

Page 110 U. S. 348

purposes, and that all laws, general and special, passed pursuant to that provision might be from time to time altered and repealed. A general law was enacted by the legislature for the formation of corporations for supplying cities, counties, and towns with water, which provided that the rates to be charged for water should be filed by a board of commissioners to be appointed in part by the corporations and in part by municipal authorities. The constitution and laws of the state were subsequently changed so as to take away from corporations which had been organized and put into operation under the old constitution and laws the power to name members of the boards of commissioners, and so as to place in municipal authorities the sole power of fixing rates for water. Held that these changes violated no provision of the Constitution of the United States.

The plaintiffs in error were petitioners in the courts of California for a writ of mandamus against the defendants in error. The constitutional question at issue was the right of the California to alter the plaintiff's charter. The facts making the case to raise this question are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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