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U.S. Supreme Court

San Antonio Traction Co. v. Altgelt, 200 U.S. 304 (1906)

San Antonio Traction Co. v. Altgelt

No. 131

Argued December 13, 1905

Decided January 22, 1906

200 U.S. 304


Even though an ordinance extending a franchise may be construed as a contract, it is still subject to the control of the legislature if the constitution of the state then in force provides that no irrevocable or uncontrollable grant of privileges shall be made and that all privileges granted by the legislature, or under its authority, shall be subject to its control; nor is the legislature deprived of this control because the contract was not made by it but by a municipal corporation, as the latter is for such purpose merely an agency of the state.

Where, after a new constitution has been adopted, a railway, chartered prior to such adoption, is consolidated with other roads or accepts new privileges, all contracts, privileges, and franchises conferred are subject to the provisions of the new constitution.

Where a corporation chartered prior to the existing constitution of a state is wound up and all of its property, contracts and obligations transferred by ordinance to a new corporation, the ordinance must be construed in connection with the constitution and the provisions for further control therein contained.

This was a petition by Altgelt, suing by his next friend, originally filed in the District Court of Bexar County, for a peremptory mandamus against the traction company, a Texas corporation operating a street railway system, commanding it to issue to the plaintiff twenty half-fare street car tickets upon the payment of fifty cents, the same being at the rate of two and a half cents per ticket.

Both parties relied upon the legal effect of certain legislation of the State of Texas hereafter set forth. The mandamus was granted by the district court, whose action was affirmed by the court of civil appeals. An application for a writ of error from the supreme court was denied.

Page 200 U. S. 305

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