This chapter discusses the legal battles over oil and mineral rights in Texas. In the first half of the twentieth century the discoveries of mass oil fields boosted the Texas economy. With oil at three dollars per barrel, Texas voters, in a 1917 addition to the state constitution, gave the legislature the power to pass all necessary legislation to conserve and develop the state's natural resources. In 1931, Texas Governor Ross Sterling declared martial law. Eugene Constantin filed a lawsuit, claiming an unconstitutional interference with his property rights. The chapter examines this case, Sterling v. Constantin, and three important legal events that occurred affecting Texas oil by the time the Supreme Court heard arguments for it. It also considers the significance of Sterling v. Constantin for constitutional law. Finally, it analyzes two other cases, Panama Refining v. Ryan and United States v. Texas.
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