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MONTANA EX REL. HAIRE v. RICE

January 28, 1907

MONTANA EX REL. HAIRE
v.
RICE, STATE TREASURER



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Moody

Author: Moody

[ 204 U.S. Page 297]

 MR. JUSTICE MOODY, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

The objection is made that no Federal question is presented by the record. It must, therefore, be determined whether the controversy turned in the state court upon any Federal question, and if so, whether it was raised and decided in that court in the manner required to give this court jurisdiction to re-examine the decision upon it. The jurisdiction to do this depends upon whether the case falls within that part of section 709 of the Revised Statutes, by which this court is given the authority upon writ of error to re-examine the final judgment or decree of the highest court of a State, "where any title, right, privilege or immunity is claimed under the Constitution, or any treaty or statute of, or commission held or authority exercised under, the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege, or immunity specially set up or claimed, by either party, under such Constitution, treaty, statute, commission or authority." Our jurisdiction in this case does not exist, unless a right claimed under a law of the United States, or an authority exercised under the United States, was specially set up in and denied by the Supreme Court of Montana. A brief discussion of the facts will determine whether these conditions of jurisdiction are present. The United States granted to the State of Montana one hundred thousand acres of the public lands for a normal school, to be held, appropriated and disposed of for such purpose, in such manner as the legislature should provide. The legislature, by a law enacted in due form, did provide that bonds should be issued, secured by the

[ 204 U.S. Page 298]

     proceeds of the sale, or leasing of the lands; that the proceeds of the bonds should be used for the erection of an addition to a normal school building and paid out for that purpose on approved vouchers. In effect, though by a circuitous method, this was a devotion of the proceeds of the sale of the land to the erection of an addition to the building. Haire presented to the state treasurer, the custodian and disbursing officer of the fund, approved vouchers for his claim for services in the erection, and payment of them was refused. The State, on relation of Haire, by proceedings which were deemed appropriate in form, sought to enforce against the state treasurer the payment of the vouchers, claiming, as appears from the opinion of the state court:

First. That the legislature had authority, under a statute of the United States, namely, section 17 of the Enabling Act to deal with the lands as it did by the bond act;

Second. That the bond act was not in violation of the state constitution; and,

Third. That if it were in violation of that constitution, the law enacted in pursuance of an authority granted by the United States was valid and effective notwithstanding. All three of these claims were denied by the state court. The first and third are clearly claims of a "right under an authority exercised under the United States," and, therefore, raised a Federal question. Maguire v. Tyler, 1 Black, 195. But it is not enough that the claim of a Federal right arose upon the facts. It must also appear affirmatively that the right was "specially set up." No reference was made to any Federal right in the petition for the writ of mandamus, the demurrer, or the motion to quash, and the petition for a rehearing, where the Federal question was first brought forward by the plaintiff in error, so far as the record discloses, was denied by the court. It is not enough that the Federal question was first presented by a petition for a rehearing, unless that question was thereupon considered, and passed on adversely by the court. Corkran Oil Company v. Arnaudet, 199 U.S. 182.

[ 204 U.S. Page 299]

     But an examination of the opinion of the Supreme Court of the State shows clearly that that court decided two questions: first, that the bond act was in violation of section 12 of article XI of the state constitution, which in substance provided that all funds of the State institutions of learning should be invested and only the interest upon them used for the support of those institutions; and, second, a question stated in the opinion as follows: "But on behalf of the relator it is contended that by the terms of section 17 of the Enabling Act the lands granted to the State for normal school purposes are to be held, appropriated and disposed of exclusively for normal school purposes, in such manner as the legislature of Montana may provide, and that this act is sufficiently broad to warrant the legislature in borrowing money and pledging such lands for the payment of the principal and interest. And it is further contended that, if section 12 of article XI of the constitution contravenes the provisions of section 17 of the Enabling Act, section 12 is invalid and of no force or effect," which was decided adversely to the contentions stated. The decision of both questions, as the court determined them, was essential to the judgment rendered, and the decision of the second was a distinct denial of the Federal right claimed by the plaintiff in error. Where it clearly and unmistakably appears from the opinion of the state court under review that a Federal question was assumed by the highest court of the State to be in issue, was actually decided against the Federal claim, and the decision of the question was essential to the judgment rendered, it is sufficient to give this court authority to re-examine the question on writ of error. San Jose Land & Water Company v. San Jose Ranch Company, 189 U.S. 177. Applying this rule to the case, there is jurisdiction to re-examine the claim of the plaintiff in error on its merits.

In support of it the plaintiff in error argues that the grant of all the land by the Enabling Act was by an ordinance accepted by the State "upon the terms and conditions therein provided;" ...


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