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America's Lone Star ConstitutionHow Supreme Court Cases from Texas Shape the Nation$
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Lucas A. Powe Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297807

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297807.001.0001

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(p.81) Five Oil
America's Lone Star Constitution

Lucas A. Powe Jr.

University of California Press

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.

Keywords:   oil, mineral rights, Texas, oil fields, Ross Sterling, Eugene Constantin, Sterling v. Constantin, constitutional law, Panama Refining v. Ryan, United States v. Texas

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