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INTERMOUNTAIN RATE CASES.1
APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES COMMERCE COURT.
Nos. 136, 162. Argued October 18, 21, 22, 1912. Decided June 22, 1914. Prior to the amendment of June 18, 1910, § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce lodged in the carrier the right to exercise a primary judgment, subject to administrative control and ultimate judicial review, concerning the necessity and propriety of making a lower rate for the longer than the shorter haul, thus giving the carrier power to exert its judgment as to things of a public nature; but the amendment withdrew that right of primary judgment and lodged it in the Interstate Commerce Commission to be exercised on request and after due investigation and consideration of the public interests concerned and in view of the preference and discrimination clauses of §§ 2 and 3 of the act.
The long and short-haul provisions of § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce as amended by the act of June 18, 1910, are not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States as a delegation of power to the Interstate Commerce Commission beyond the competency of Congress.
If a statute is constitutional, this court must be governed by it and its plain meaning; with the wisdom of Congress in adopting the statute this court has nothing to do.
In Louis. & Nash. R. R. Co. v. Kentucky, 183 U. S. 503, this court decided that a general enforcement of the long and short-haul clause of the Act to Regulate Commerce would not be repugnant to the Constitution, and will not now reconsider and overrule that decision. The Commerce Court had jurisdiction of a suit to enjoin the enforcement of the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission involved in these cases and which refused the request of carriers to put in force rates requested by them.
Under § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended by the act of June 18, 1910, the Interstate Commerce Commission has power to make an order, such as that involved in these cases, permitting a
1 Docket title of these cases: No. 136, United States of America, Interstate Commerce Commission et al., v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company et al. No. 162, United States of America, Interstate Commerce Commission et al., v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company et al.
Opinion of the Court.
lower rate for the longer haul but only on terms stated in the order, establishing zones for the intermediate points and relative percentages upon which proportionate rates should be based. 191 Fed. Rep. 856, reversed.
THE facts, which involve the constitutionality of the long and short-haul provisions of the Act to Regulate Commerce as amended by the act of June 18, 1910, and the validity of an order made in pursuance thereof by the Interstate Commerce Commission, are stated in the opinion.
Mr. Attorney General Wickersham and Mr. Assistant to the Attorney General Fowler, with whom Mr. Blackburn Esterline, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, was on the brief, for the United States.
Mr. P. J. Farrell for the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Mr. Charles Donnelly, Mr. F. W. M. Cutcheon and Mr. F. C. Dillard for appellees.
Mr. Rush C. Butler, Mr. William E. Lamb, Mr. Stephen A. Foster and Mr. Cornelius Lynde filed a reply brief on behalf of the Chicago Association of Commerce.
Mr. Joseph N. Teal for Portland Chamber of Commerce. Mr. J. B. Campbell for the City of Spokane.
Mr. William A. Glasgow, Jr., for Giroux Consolidated Mines Co.
By leave of court, Mr. Alfred P. Thom filed a brief in behalf of certain interested parties.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.
We shall seek to confine our statement to matters which are essential to the decision of the case. The provisions of § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce dealing with what is known as the long and short-haul clause, the power of
Opinion of the Court.
carriers because of dissimilarity of circumstances and conditions to deviate from the exactions of such clause and the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission in relation to such subjects were materially amended by the act of June 18, 1910, c. 309, 36 Stat. 539, 547. Following the form prescribed by the Commission after the amendment in question, the seventeen carriers who are appellees on this record made to the Interstate Commerce Commission their "application for relief from provisions of fourth section of Amended Commerce Act in connection
the following tariffs." The tariffs annexed to the applications covered the whole territory from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico, including all interior points and embracing practically the entire country, and the petition asked the Interstate Commerce Commission for authority to continue all rates shown on the tariffs from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific coast and from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic seaboard and to and from interior points lower than rates concurrently in effect from and to intermediate points. It was stated in the petition: "This application is based upon the desire of the interested carriers to continue the present method of making rates lower at the more distant points than at the intermediate points; such lower rates being necessary by reason of competition of various water carriers and of carriers partly by water and partly by rail operating from Pacific coast ports to Atlantic seaboard ports; competition of various water carriers operating to foreign countries from Pacific coast ports and competition of the products of foreign countries with the products of the Pacific coast; competition of the products of Pacific coast territory with the products of other sections of the country; competition of Canadian rail carriers not subject to the Interstate Commerce Act; competition of the products of Canada moving by Canadian carriers with the products of the United States; rates established via
Opinion of the Court.
the shorter or more direct routes, but applied also via the longer or more circuitous routes." After full hearing the Commission refused to grant unqualifiedly the prayer of the petition but entered an order permitting in some respects a charge of a lower rate for the longer haul to the Pacific coast than was asked for intermediate points provided a proportionate relation was maintained between the lower rate for the longer haul to the Pacific coast and the higher rate to the intermediate points the proportion to be upon the basis of percentages which were fixed, For the purposes of the order in question the Commission in substance adopted a division of the entire territory into separate zones which division had been resorted to by the carriers for the purposes of the establishment of the rates in relation to which the petition was filed. Refusing to comply with this order the carriers commenced proceedings in the Commerce Court praying a decree enjoining the enforcement of the fourth section as amended on the ground of its repugnancy to the Constitution of the United States and of the order as being in any event violative of the amended section as properly construed. An interlocutory injunction was ordered. The defendants moved to dismiss and on the overruling of the motions appealed from the interlocutory order, the case being No. 136. Subsequently upon the election of the defendants to plead no further a final decree was entered and appealed from, that appeal being No. 162.
It suffices at this moment to say that all the contentions which the assignments of error involve and every argument advanced to refute such contentions, including every argument urged to uphold on the one hand or to overthrow on the other the action of the Commission, as well as every reason relied upon to challenge the action of the court or to sustain its judgment, are all reducible to the following propositions:
(a) The absolute want of power of the court below to
Opinion of the Court.
deal with the subject involved in the complaint because controversies concerning the fourth section of the Act to Regulate Commerce of the nature here presented were by an express statutory provision excluded from the cognizance of the court below. (b) That even if this be not the case the action of the Commission which was complained of was purely negative and therefore not within the cognizance of the court because not inherently justiciable. (c) That correctly interpreting the fourth section the order made by the Commission was absolutely void because wholly beyond the scope of any power conferred by the fourth section as amended. (d) That even if in some respects the order of the Commission was within the reach of its statutory power there was intermingled in the order such an exertion of authority not delegated as to cause the whole order to be void. (e) That the order of the Commission was void even if the fourth section be interpreted as conferring the authority which the Commission exerted, since under that assumption the fourth section as amended was repugnant to the Constitution.
All the propositions, even including the jurisdictional ones, are concerned with and depend upon the construction of the fourth section as amended, and we proceed to consider and pass upon that subject and every other question in the case under four separate headings: 1, The meaning of the statute; 2, Its constitutionality; 3, The jurisdiction of the court; 4, The validity of the order in the light of the statute as interpreted.
1. The meaning of the statute.
We reproduce the section as originally adopted and as amended, passing a line through the words omitted by the amendment and printing in italics those which were added by the amendment, thus at a glance enabling the section to be read as it was before and as it now stands after amendment.
"SEC. 4. That it shall be unlawful for any common car