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any particular person, company, firm, corporation, or locality, or any particular description of traffic, in any respect whatsoever, or to subject any particular person, company, firm, corporation, or locality, or any particular description of traffic, to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatsoever.”
This language is certainly sweeping enough to embrace all the discriminations of the sort described which it was within the power of Congress to condemn. There is no exception or qualification with respect to an unreasonable discrimination against interstate traffic produced by the relation of intrastate to interstate rates as maintained by the carrier. It is apparent from the legislative history of the act that the evil of discrimination was the principal thing aimed at, and there is no basis for the contention that Congress intended to exempt any discriminatory action or practice of interstate carriers affecting interstate commerce which it had authority to reach. The purpose of the measure was thus emphatically stated in the elaborate report of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce which accompanied it: “The provisions of the bill are based upon the theory that the paramount evil chargeable against the operation of the transportation system of the United States as now conducted is unjust discrimination between persons, places, commodities, or particular descriptions of traffic. The underlying purpose and aim of the measure is the prevention of these discriminations.
(Senate Report No. 46, 49th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 215).
The opposing argument rests upon the proviso in the first section of the act which in its original form was as follows: “Provided, however, that the provisions of this act shall not apply to the transportation of passengers or property, or to the receiving, delivering, storage, or handling of property, wholly within one State, and not shipped to or from a foreign country from or to any State or Ter
ritory as aforesaid.” When the act was amended so as to confer upon the Commission the authority to prescribe maximum interstate rates, this proviso was reënacted; and when the act was extended to include telegraph, telephone and cable companies engaged in interstate business, an additional clause was inserted so as to exclude intrastate messages. See acts of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584; June 18, 1910, c. 309, 36 Stat. 539, 545.
Congress thus defined the scope of its regulation and provided that it was not to extend to purely intrastate traffic. It did not undertake to authorize the Commission to prescribe intrastate rates and thus to establish a unified control by the exercise of the rate-making power over both descriptions of traffic. Undoubtedly—in the absence of a finding by the Commission of unjust discriminationintrastate rates were left to be fixed by the carrier and subject to the authority of the States or of the agencies created by the States. This was the question recently decided by this court in the Minnesota Rate Cases, supra. There, the State of Minnesota had established reasonable rates for intrastate transportation throughout the State and it was contended that, by reason of the passage of the Act to Regulate Commerce, the State could no longer exercise the state-wide authority for this purpose which it had formerly enjoyed; and the court was asked to hold that an entire scheme of intrastate rates, otherwise validly established, was null and void because of its effect upon interstate rates. There had been no finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission of any unjust discrimination. The present question, however, was reserved, the court saying (230 U. S. p. 419): “It is urged, however, that the words of the proviso” (referring to the proviso above-mentioned) "are susceptible of a construction which would permit the provisions of section three of the act, prohibiting carriers from giving an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any locality, to apply to unreasonable discriminations
between localities in different States, as well when arising from an intrastate rate as compared with an interstate rate as when due to interstate rates exclusively. If it be assumed that the statute should be so construed, and it is not necessary now to decide the point, it would inevitably follow that the controlling principle governing the enforcement of the act should be applied to such cases as might thereby be brought within its purview; and the question whether the carrier, in such a case, was giving an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to one locality as against another, or subjecting any locality to an undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage, would be primarily for the investigation and determination of the Interstate Commerce Commission and not for the courts."
Here, the Commission expressly found that unjust discrimination existed under substantially similar conditions of transportation and the inquiry is whether the Commission had power to correct it. We are of the opinion that the limitation of the proviso in section one does not apply to a case of this sort. The Commission was dealing with the relation of rates injuriously affecting, through an unreasonable discrimination, traffic that was interstate. The question was thus not simply one of transportation that was 'wholly within one State.' These words of the proviso have appropriate reference to exclusively intrastate traffic, separately considered; to the regulation of domestic commerce, as such. The powers conferred by the act are not thereby limited where interstate commerce itself is involved. This is plainly the case when the Commission finds that unjust discrimination against interstate trade arises from the relation of intrastate to interstate rates as maintained by a carrier subject to the act. Such a matter is one with which Congress alone is competent to deal, and, in view of the aim of the act and the comprehensive terms of the provisions against unjust discrimination,
234 U. S.
Opinion of the Court.
there is no ground for holding that the authority of Congress was unexercised and that the subject was thus left without governmental regulation. It is urged that the practical construction of the statute has been the other way. But, in assailing the order, the appellants ask us to override the construction which has been given to the statute by the authority charged with its execution, and it cannot be said that the earlier action of the Commission was of such a controlling character as to preclude it from giving effect to the law. The Commission, having before it a plain case of unreasonable discrimination on the part of interstate carriers against interstate trade, carefully examined the question of its authority and decided that it had the power to make this remedial order. The Commerce Court sustained the authority of the Commission and it is clear that we should not reverse the decree unless the law has been misapplied. This we cannot say; on the contrary, we are convinced that the authority of the Commission was adequate.
The further objection is made that the prohibition of section three is directed against unjust discrimination or undue preference only when it arises from the voluntary act of the carrier and does not relate to acts which are the result of conditions wholly beyond its control. East Tennessee &c. Rwy. Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 181 U. S. 1, 18. The reference is not to any inherent lack of control arising out of traffic conditions, but to the requirements of the local authorities which are assumed to be binding upon the carriers. The contention is thus merely a repetition in another form of the argument that the Commission exceeded its power; for it would not be contended that local rules could nullify the lawful exercise of Federal authority. In the view that the Commission was entitled to make the order, there is no longer compulsion upon the carriers by virtue of any inconsistent local requirement. We are not unmindful of the gravity of the
question that is presented when state and Federal views conflict. But it was recognized at the beginning that the Nation could not prosper if interstate and foreign trade were governed by many masters, and, where the interests of the freedom of interstate commerce are involved, the judgment of Congress and of the agencies it lawfully establishes must control.
In conclusion: Reading the order in the light of the report of the Commission, it does not appear that the Commission attempted to require the carriers to reduce their interstate rates out of Shreveport below what was found to be a reasonable charge for that service. So far as these interstate rates conformed to what was found to be reasonable by the Commission, the carriers are entitled to maintain them, and they are free to comply with the order by so adjusting the other rates, to which the order relates, as to remove the forbidden discrimination. But this result they are required to accomplish.
The decree of the Commerce Court is affirmed in each case..
Affirmed. MR. JUSTICE LURTON and MR. JUSTICE PITNEY dissent.
CITIZENS BANKING COMPANY v. RAVENNA
CERTIFICATE FFOM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE
No. 288. Argued March 16, 1914.-Decided June 8, 1914.
The failure by an insolvent judgment debtor and for a period of one
day less than four months after the levy of an execution upon his real estate, to vacate or discharge such a levy, is not a final disposition of the property affected by the levy under the provisions of $ 3a (3) of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898.