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Indiana ex rel. Anderson v. Brand, 303 U.S. 95 (1938)

Indiana ex rel. Anderson v. Brand

No. 256

Argued January 10, 1938

Decided January 31, 1938

303 U.S. 95


1. Where a state court does not decide a cause upon an independent state ground, but, deeming a federal question to be before it, actually entertains and decides that question adversely to the federal right asserted, this Court has jurisdiction to review the judgment if final. P. 303 U. S. 98.

2. This Court may not refuse jurisdiction because the state court might have based its decision, consistently with the record, upon an independent and adequate state ground. P. 303 U. S. 98.

3. The opinion of the state court may be examined to ascertain whether a federal question was raised and decided or whether the court rested its judgment on an adequate nonfederal ground. P. 303 U. S. 98.

4. Any doubt here as to whether the validity of the state statute under the Federal Constitution was drawn into question, arising from the generality of a reference in the opinion of the state court, held removed by a certificate signed by all the justices of the state court, and made a part of the record, to the effect that the reference was to Art. I, § 10, of the Constitution of the United States. P. 303 U. S. 99.

5. A legislative enactment may contain provisions which, when accepted as the basis of action by individuals, become contracts between them and the State within the protection of Art. I, § 10, of the Federal Constitution. P. 303 U. S. 100.

6. Where it is claimed that a state statute impairs the obligation of a contract alleged to have been created by an earlier statute, this Court, while according great weight to the views of the highest court of the State, must determine for itself questions as to the existence and effect of the contract and as to whether its obligation was impaired. P. 303 U. S. 100.

7. The Indiana Teachers' Tenure Act of 1927 provided that a public school teacher who had served under contract for five or more successive years, and thereafter entered into a contract for further service with the school corporation, thereby became a "permanent teacher," and that the contract, upon the expiration of its stated

Page 303 U. S. 96

term, should be deemed an "indefinite contract" and remain in force until succeeded by a new contract signed by both parties or cancelled in the manner provided in the Act. A permanent teacher's contract must be in writing, and could be cancelled only after notice and hearing, and for causes specified in the Act, but not for political or personal reasons. The teacher could cancel only upon five days' notice, but not during the school term nor within 30 days of the beginning thereof. An amendatory Act of 1933, as construed by the state court, repealed the earlier Act insofar as township teachers and schools were concerned and permitted the termination of the employment of such teachers without regard to the conditions and limitations of the earlier Act. Held that, under the Act of 1927, the right of a permanent teacher to continued employment upon an indefinite contract was contractual, and the obligation of such a contract in the case of a township teacher was unconstitutionally impaired by the Act of 1933. P. 303 U. S. 104.

8. Although every contract is made subject to the implied condition that its fulfillment may be frustrated by proper exercise of the police power, yet, in order to have this effect, the exercise of the power must be for an end which is in fact public, and the means adopted must be reasonably adapted to that end. P. 303 U. S. 108.

9. The state court's decision of a federal question in favor of the defendant being erroneous, and it not having passed upon a second ground of demurrer which appears to involve no federal question, and which may present a defense still open to the defendant, the cause is reversed and remanded for further proceedings. P. 303 U. S. 109.

5 N.E.2d 531, 913, 7 N.E.2d 777, reversed.

Certiorari, 302 U.S. 678, to review a judgment affirming the dismissal, on demurrer to the complaint, of an action for a writ of mandate.

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