« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court.
244 U. S.
in Ex parte Young, 209 U. S. 123; but the court refused relief against the order reducing water rates, saying:
"The evidence submitted by the complainants does not afford this Court a satisfactory basis on which to adjudicate the question of the value of the property used as a water plant, and therefore the Court cannot say that the rates prescribed by the Corporation Commission are confiscatory, and there is no basis on which an order could be made declaring them illegal. If hereafter it shall appear that under actual operation of the plant under these rates, the return allowed by such Corporation Commission operates as a confiscation of the property of complainant, Ida A. Van Dyke, she may, at the expiration of one year, again present her evidence to the Court and obtain appropriate relief on the facts then presented.
"The Court will retain jurisdiction of the case with permission to complainant, Ida A. Van Dyke, if so advised, after the expiration of one year, to renew her application for an injunction against the rates established by the Corporation Commission as confiscatory. In the meantime the rates established will remain in force."
From an order entered in accordance with this opinion the Van Dykes appealed; and this court has jurisdiction to review the whole case. Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co. v. Garrett, 231 U. S. 298.
The errors alleged are, in substance, as follows:
First: That the Arizona Constitution and Public Service Corporation Act were construed and applied to subject property owned and operated by a natural person to regulation, as a public service corporation.
Second: That a water system established for the purpose of furnishing water only to purchasers of lots from the Miami Townsite Company was treated as a public water system.
Third: That the rates fixed are confiscatory.
These alleged errors will be considered in their order.
1. Whether the Arizona Corporation Commission had jurisdiction to regulate a water system owned by an individual.
Arizona was admitted as a State February 14, 1912; and on that date its constitution, which had been adopted December 9, 1910, took effect. By Article XV it created (§ 1) a corporation commission with full power to establish reasonable rates in the public services; and declared (§ 2) that corporations engaged in furnishing water "shall be deemed public service corporations." The Arizona Public Service Corporation Act (Ariz. Rev. Stats. 1913, Tit. 9, c. XI) provides that the term "public service corporation" shall include "water corporation," § 2278 (z); that "water corporation" shall include "every corporation or person owning, controlling, operating, or managing any water system for compensation within this State," § 2278 (x); that the term "person" includes an individual, § 2278 (d); and that the term "water system" shall include all property used in the supply or distribution of water "for municipal, domestic, or other beneficial use," § 2278 (w). It is clear that the legislature intended that the powers of the Corporation Commission should extend to plants owned and operated by individuals, and that the language used by it was adequate to express that intent. But it is insisted that provisions of the Arizona Constitution forbid the grant of such a power by the legislature; and the question resolves itself into this: Are the terms "corporation" and "public service corporation" in Article XV of the constitution, used in the limited sense of incorporated companies, or do they include all public utilities both incorporated and unincorporated and whether they be firms or individuals?
Article XV, entitled "The Corporation Commission," consists of nineteen sections,1 and confers broad powers of
1 Included are the following:
"Section 1. A Corporation Commission is hereby created to be com
Opinion of the Court.
244 U. S.
regulation. The character of the service, that is, whether it is public or private, and not the character of the ownership, determines ordinarily the scope of the power of regulation. The need of such regulation and the manner of exercising it are the same whether a public utility is incorporated or not; and the purpose of a public service commission could easily be frustrated if concerns owned by individuals were excluded from its operation. The District Court accordingly declined to give a technical mean
posed of three persons, who shall be elected at the general election to be held under the provisions of the enabling Act approved June 20, 1910, and whose term of office shall be co-terminous with that of the Governor of the State elected at the same time, and who shall maintain their chief office, and reside, at the State Capital.
"Sec. 2. All corporations other than municipal engaged in carrying persons or property for hire; or in furnishing gas, oil, or electricity for light, fuel, or power; or in furnishing water for irrigation, fire protection, or other public purposes; or in furnishing, for profit, hot or cold air or steam for heating or cooling purposes; or in transmitting messages or furnishing public telegraph or telephone service, and all corporations other than municipal, operating as common carriers, shall be deemed public service corporations.
"Sec. 3. The Corporation Commission shall have full power to, and shall, prescribe just and reasonable classifications to be used, and just and reasonable rates and charges to be made and collected, by public service corporations within the State for service rendered therein, and make reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, by which such corporations shall be governed in the transaction of business within the State, and may prescribe the forms of contracts and the systems of keeping accounts to be used by such corporations in transacting such business, and make and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, and orders for the convenience, comfort, and safety, and the preservation of the health, of the employees and patrons of such corporations; Provided, that incorporated cities and towns may be authorized by law to exercise supervision over public service corporations doing business therein, including the regulation of rates and charges to be made and collected by such corporations: Provided further, That classifications, rates, charges, rules, regulations, orders, and forms or systems prescribed or made by said Corporation Commission may from time to time be amended or repealed by such Commission."
ing to the term "public service corporation," and interpreted it in the broad popular sense as embracing all public utilities. That construction is in line with numerous decisions holding that statutes imposing certain liabilities on "railroad corporations" embrace all railroads whether individually or corporately owned.1
It is contended that Article XIV, entitled "Corporations other than Municipal," renders this liberal construction of Article XV inadmissible. Section 1, of Article XIV defines "corporation,' as used in this article to include all associations and joint stock companies having any powers or privileges of corporations not possessed by individuals or co-partnerships"; and § 16 provides that the records of "all public service corporations" shall at all times be subject to the inquisitorial powers of the State. It is argued that the term "public service corporation," thus excluding individually-owned utilities, could hardly have a different meaning in the very next article of the constitution. But the answer is that Article XIV deals only with the organization, incorporation, management and powers of technical corporations, and the definition therein of "corporation" is for that reason expressly limited by the phrase "as used in this Article." This is significant and is entirely in harmony with the view that the term as used in some other article having a wholly different purpose, should bear a different and broader construction.
Furthermore, the powers of the Arizona Corporation Commission are not limited to those expressly granted by the constitution. Section 6 of Article XV authorizes the legislature to "enlarge the powers and extend the duties of the Corporation Commission"; and the legislature, by
1 Union Pacific Ry. Co. v. De Busk, 12 Colorado, 294, 304; Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Lightheiser, 168 Indiana, 438; Schus v. PowersSimpson Co., 85 Minnesota, 447, 450-451; Lewis v. Northern Pacific Ry. Co., 36 Montana, 207, 218.
defining "water corporation" to include "persons" owning a water utility, clearly extends the powers of the commission to individually-owned concerns. So that even if the commission was not originally vested by the constitution with power over utilities owned by individuals, it now has that power directly by legislative enactment. In other words the constitution prescribed a certain minimum of power with which the commission was intrusted; it authorized the legislature to enlarge from time to time the scope of the commission's duties; and the legislature extended them to water concerns owned by individuals.
This construction of the Arizona Constitution by the District Court is in harmony with the contemporaneous construction evidenced by the Public Service Corporation Act (supra) enacted at the first session of its legislature. In the absence of an authoritative decision of the Arizona Supreme Court to the contrary, this legislative construction, reasonable in itself and designed to accomplish the obvious purpose of the constitutional provision, ought not to be set aside by this court. Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co. v. Garrett, 231 U. S. 298, 305.
Appellants contend also that even if the legislature had power to extend the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission to water systems owned and operated by individuals, the Public Service Corporation Act was, in this respect, invalid under Article IV, Part 2, § 13 of the Arizona Constitution, because this purpose was not expressed in the title of that act.1 Constitutional provisions re
1 The Arizona Constitution (Art. IV, Part 2, § 13) provides that: "Every Act shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith, which subject shall be expressed in the title; but if any subject shall be embraced in an Act which shall not be expressed in the title, such Act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be embraced in the title."
The Act is entitled:
"An Act relating to Public Service Corporations, Providing for the