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Opinion of the Court.
rier subject to the provisions of this Act to charge or receive any greater compensation in the aggregate for the transportation of passengers, or of like kind of property, under substantially similar circumstances and conditions, for a shorter than for a longer distance over the same line or route in the same direction, the shorter being included within the longer distance, or to charge any greater compen-, sation as a through route than the aggregate of the intermediate rates subject to the provisions of this Act; but this shall not be construed as authorizing any common carrier within the terms of this Act to charge and or receive as great compensation for a shorter as for a longer distance: Provided, however, That upon application to the Interstate Commerce Commission appointed under the provisions of this Aet, such common carrier may in special cases, after investigation by the Commissien, be authorized by the Commission to charge less for longer than for shorter distances for the transportation of passengers or property; and the Commission may from time to time prescribe the extent to which such designated common carrier may be relieved from the operation of this section of this Act: Provided, further, That no rates or charges lawfully existing at the time of the passage of this amendatory Act shall be required to be changed by reason of the provisions of this section prior to the expiration of six months after the passage of this Act, nor in any case where application shall have been filed before the Commission, in accordance with the provisions of this section, until a determination of such application by the Commission.
234 U. S.
"Whenever a carrier by railroad shall in competition with a water route or routes reduce the rates on the carriage of any species of freight to or from competitive points, it shall not be permitted to increase such rates unless after hearing by the Interstate Commerce Commission it shall be found that such proposed increase rests upon changed conditions other than the elimination of water competition."
Opinion of the Court.
Before considering the amended text we state briefly some of the more important requirements of the section before amendment and the underlying conceptions of private right, of public duty and policy which it embodied, because to do so will go a long way to remove any doubt as to the amended text and will moreover serve to demonstrate the intent of the legislative mind in enacting the amendment.
Almost immediately after the adoption of the Act to Regulate Commerce in 1887 (February 4, 1887, c. 104, 24 Stat. 379), the Interstate Commerce Commission in considering the meaning of the law and the scope of the duties imposed on the Commission in enforcing it, reached the conclusion that the words "under substantially similar circumstances and conditions" of the fourth section dominated the long and short-haul clause and empowered carriers to primarily determine the existence of the required dissimilarity of circumstances and conditions and consequently to exact in the event of such difference a lesser charge for the longer than was exacted for the shorter haul and that competition which materially affected the rate of carriage to a particular point was a dissimilar circumstance and condition within the meaning of the act. We say primarily because of course it was further recognized that the authority existing in carriers to the end just stated was subject to the supervision and control of the Interstate Commerce Commission in the exertion of the powers conferred upon it by the statute and especially in view of the authority stated in the fourth section. In considering the act comprehensively it was pointed out that the generic provisions against preference and discrimination expressed in the second and third sections of the act were all-embracing and were therefore operative upon the fourth section as well as upon all other provisions of the act. But it was pointed out that where within the purview of the fourth section it had lawfully resulted that
Opinion of the Court.
the lesser rate was charged for a longer than was exacted for a shorter haul such exaction being authorized could not be a preference or discrimination and therefore illegal. In re Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co., 1 I. C. C. 31. These comprehensive views announced at the inception as a matter of administrative construction were subsequently sustained by many decisions of this court, and to the leading of such cases we refer in the margin.1 We observe, moreover, that in addition it came to be settled that where competitive conditions authorized carriers to lower their rates to a particular place the right to meet the competition by lowering rates to such place was not confined to shipments made from the point of origin of the competition, but empowered all carriers in the interest of freedom of commerce and to afford enlarged opportunity to shippers to accept, if they chose to do so, shipments to such competitive points at lower rates than their general tariff rates: a right which came aptly to be described as "market competition" because the practice served to enlarge markets and develop the freedom of traffic and intercourse. It is to be observed, however, that the right thus conceded was not absolute because its exercise was only permitted provided the rates were not so lowered as to be non-remunerative and thereby cast an unnecessary burden upon other shippers. East Tenn. &c. R. Co. v. Interstate Com. Comm., 181 U. S. 1. As the statute as thus construed imposed no obligation to carry to the competitive point at a rate which was less than a reasonable one, it is obvious that the statute regarded the rights of private ownership and sought to impose no duty conflicting therewith. It is also equally clear that in permitting the carrier
1 Int. Com. Comm. v. Balt. & Ohio Railroad, 145 U. S. 263; Cinn., N.O. & Tex. Pac. Ry. v. Int. Com. Comm., 162 U. S. 184; Texas & Pac. Railway v. Int. Com. Comm., 162 U. S. 197; Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Behlmer, 175 U. S. 648; East Tenn. &c. R. Co. v. Int. Com. Comm., U. S. 1.
Opinion of the Court.
234 U. S.
to judge primarily of the competitive conditions and to meet them at election the statute lodged in the carrier the right to exercise a primary judgment concerning a matter of public concern broader than the mere question of the duty of a carrier to carry for a reasonable rate on the one hand and of the right of the shipper on the other to compel carriage at such rate, since the power of primary judgment which the statute conferred concerned in a broad sense the general public interest with reference to both persons and places, considerations all of which therefore in their ultimate aspects came within the competency of legislative regulation. It was apparent that the power thus conferred was primary, not absolute, since its exertion by the carrier was made by the statute the subject both of administrative control and ultimate judicial review. And the establishment of such control in and of itself serves to make manifest the public nature of the attributes.conferred upon the carrier by the original fourth section. Indeed that in so far as the statute empowered the carrier to judge as to the dissimilarity of circumstances and conditions for the purpose of relief from the long and short-haul clause it but gave the carrier the power to exert a judgment as to things public was long since pointed out by this court. Texas & Pac. Railway v. Interstate Com. Comm., 162 U. S. 197, 218.
With the light afforded by the statements just made we come to consider the amendment. It is certain that the fundamental change which it makes is the omission of the substantially similar circumstances and conditions clause, thereby leaving the long and short-haul clause in a sense unqualified except in so far as the section gives the right to the carrier to apply to the Commission for authority "to charge less for longer than for shorter distances for the transportation of persons or property" and gives the Commission authority from time to time "to prescribe the extent to which such designated common carrier may
be relieved from the operation of this section." From the failure to insert any word in the amendment tending to exclude the operation of competition as adequate under proper circumstances to justify the awarding of relief from the long and short-haul clause and there being nothing which minimizes or changes the application of the preference and discrimination clauses of the second and third sections, it follows that in substance the amendment intrinsically states no new rule or principle but simply shifts the powers conferred by the section as it originally stood; that is, it takes from the carriers the deposit of public power previously lodged in them and vests it in the Commission as a primary instead of a reviewing function. In other words, the elements of judgment or so to speak the system of law by which judgment is to be controlled remains unchanged but a different tribunal is created for the enforcement of the existing law. This being true, as we think it plainly is, the situation under the amendment is this: Power in the carrier primarily to meet competitive conditions in any point of view by charging a lesser rate for a longer than for a shorter haul has ceased to exist because to do so, in the absence of some authority, would not only be inimical to the provision of the fourth section but would be in conflict with the preference and discrimination clauses of the second and third sections. But while the public power, so to speak, previously lodged in the carrier is thus withdrawn and reposed in the Commission the right of carriers to seek and obtain under authorized circumstances the sanction of the Commission to charge a lower rate for a longer than for a shorter haul because of competition or for other adequate reasons is expressly preserved and if not is in any event by necessary implication granted. And as a correlative the authority of the Commission to grant on request the right sought is made by the statute to depend upon the facts established and the judgment of that body in the exercise of a sound