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Opinion of the Court.

substances which in the nature of things are united, though separate. It follows from the essence of their right and from the situation of the things, as to which it can be exerted, that the use by one of his power to seek to convert a part of the common fund to actual possession may result in an undue proportion being attributed to one of the possessors of the right, to the detriment of the others, or by waste by one or more, to the annihilation of the rights of the remainder. Hence it is that the legislative power, from the peculiar nature of the right and the objects upon which it is to be exerted, can be manifested for the purpose of protecting all the collective owners, by secur ing a just distribution, to arise from the enjoyment by them, of their privilege to reduce to possession, and to reach the like end by preventing waste. This necessarily implied legislative authority is borne out by the analogy suggested by things feræ naturæ, which it is unquestioned the legislature has the authority to forbid all from taking, in order to protect them from undue destruction, so that the right of the common owners, the public, to reduce to possession may be ultimately efficaciously enjoyed. Viewed, then, as a statute to protect or to prevent the waste of the common property of the surface owners, the law of the State of Indiana which is here attacked because it is asserted that it devested private property without due compensation, in substance, is a statute protecting private property and preventing it from being taken by one of the common owners without regard to the enjoyment of the others. Indeed, the entire argument, upon which the attack on the statute must depend, involves a dilemma, which is this: If the right of the collective owners of the surface to take from the common fund, and thus reduce a portion of it to possession, does not create a property interest in the common fund, then the statute does not provide for the taking of private property without compensation. If, on the other hand, there be, as a consequence of the right of the surface owners to reduce to possession, a right of property in them, in and to the substances contained in the common reservoir of supply, then as a necessary result of the right of property, its indivisible quality and the peculiar position of the things to which it relates, there must arise the legislative

Opinion of the Court.

power to protect the right of property from destruction. To illustrate by another form of statement, the argument is this: There is property in the surface owners in the gas and oil held in the natural reservoir. Their right to take cannot be regulated without devesting them of their property without adequate compensation, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and this, although it be that if regulation cannot be exerted one property owner may deprive all the others of their rights, since his act in so doing will be damnum absque injuria. This is but to say that one common owner may devest all the others of their rights without wrongdoing, but the lawmaking power cannot protect all the owners in their enjoyment without violating the Constitution of the United States.

These considerations are sufficient to dispose of the case. But as there are several contentions which seem to have been considered, in argument, as resting on different premises, though such in reason is not the case, we briefly notice them separately: First. It is argued that as the gas, before being allowed to disperse in the air, serves the purpose of forcing up the oil, therefore it is not wasted, hence is not subject to regulation. Second. That the answer averred that the defendant was so situated as not to be able to use or dispose of the gas which comes to the surface with the oil; from which it follows that the gas must either be stored or dispersed in the air. Now, the answer further asserted that when the gas is stored and not used the back pressure, on the best known pump, would, if not arresting its movement, at least greatly diminish its capacity. Hence it is said the law by making it unlawful to allow the gas to escape made it practically impossible to profitably extract the oil. That is, as the oil could not be taken at a profit by one who made no use of the gas, therefore he must be allowed to waste the gas into the atmosphere, and thus destroy the interest of the other common owners in the reservoir of gas. These contentions but state in a different form the matters already disposed of. They really go not to the power to make the regulations, but to their wisdom. But with the lawful discretion of the legislature of the State we may not interfere.

In view of the fact that regulations of natural deposits of oil

Opinion of the Court.

and gas and the right of the owner to take them as an incident of title in fee to the surface of the earth, as said by the Supreme Court of Indiana, is ultimately but a regulation of real property, and they must hence be treated as relating to the preservation and protection of rights of an essentially local character. Considering this fact and the peculiar situation of the substances, as well as the character of the rights of the surface owners, we cannot say that the statute amounts to a taking of private property, when it is but a regulation by the State of Indiana of a subject which especially comes within its lawful authority. Affirmed.



No. 83. Argued December 18, 19, 1899.

Decided April 9, 1900.

The judgment below in this case is affirmed for the reasons given in Ohio Oil Company v. Indiana, ante, page 190.

THIS case was argued with No. 84, ante, 190, and by the same counsel.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The defendant below was sued for the sum of certain penalties imposed by law for allowing gas to escape into the atmospheric air from an oil and gas well. The statute by which the penalties were imposed is the one we have considered and passed on in an opinion this day delivered in Ohio Oil Co. v. Indiana, No. 84, of this term. The defendant demurred to the complaint, and when the demurrer was overruled answered. The answer alleged that the statute imposing the penalties was repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, on the same grounds which we have to-day disposed of in the case referred to. From a judgment awarding the penalties,

Opinion of the Court.

which was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State of Indiana, this writ of error is prosecuted. For the reasons given in case No. 84 the judgment is




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No. 85. Argued December 18, 19, 1899. Decided April 9, 1900.

The judgment below in this case is affirmed for the reasons given in Ohio Oil Company v. Indiana, No. 1, ante, page 190.

THIS case was argued with No. 84, ante, 190, and by the same counsel.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The Supreme Court of the State of Indiana affirmed a judg ment of the trial court, awarding the sum of certain penalties incurred by violating a statute of the State of Indiana which came under our review in case No. 84, this day disposed of. The opinion in that case is conclusive of every question here arising, and for the reasons given in case No. 84, the judgment is


Statement of the Case.



No. 168. Argued March 5, 1900.- Decided April 9, 1900.

The amount of the estate, as a whole, was the matter in dispute below, and
it amounted to sufficient to give this court jurisdiction.
The sovereignty of the State of Georgia, and the jurisdiction of its courts
at the time of the grant of letters of administration on the estate of Haral-
son did not extend to or embrace the assets of the decedent situated
within the territorial jurisdiction of the District of Columbia; and while
the De Kalb county court possessed the power to determine the question
of the domicil of the decedent for the purpose of conclusively adjudicat-
ing the validity within the State of Georgia of a grant of letters of ad-
ministration, it did not possess the power to conclusively bind all the
world as to the fact of domicil, by a mere finding of such fact in a pro-
ceeding in rem.

Pending proceedings for the appointment of an administrator in the Dis-
trict of Columbia, the personal assets of the deceased there situated were
delivered up to the administrator appointed by the Georgia court. The
trial court declined to rule that their delivery operated to protect those
who made it as against an administrator appointed within the District.
Held that this was a proper ruling.

The act of Congress of February 28, 1887, c. 281, has no relation to a case of this kind.

THE proceedings under review originated in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, by the filing in that court, on January 23, 1896, of a petition on behalf of Mrs. Gordon, the appellee herein. The object of the petition was to obtain the probate, as the last will and testament of Hugh A. Haralson, of a paper purporting to have been executed by Haralson, a copy of which is set out in the margin hereof,' and to obtain

1SAVANNAH, GA., August 14, 1895.

It is my will and desire that after my death the interest on my bonds be for the sole use and benefit of my sister Mrs. Fannie Gordon, and that after her death the interest on my bonds be for the sole use and benefit of her daughter and my niece Carrie Lewis Gordon.

It is my will and desire that none of my securities be sold or the investment changed until they mature.

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