« ПретходнаНастави »
legal discretion as to whether the request should be granted compatibly with a due consideration of the private and public interests concerned and in view of the preference and discrimination clauses of the second and third sections. 2. The alleged repugnancy of the section as amended to the Constitution.
But if the amendment has this meaning it is insisted that it is repugnant to the Constitution for various reasons which superficially considered seem to be distinct but which really are all so interwoven that we consider and dispose of them as one. The argument is that the statute as correctly construed is but a delegation to the Commission of legislative power which Congress was incompetent to make. But the contention is without merit. Field v. Clark, 143 U. S. 649; Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U. S. 470; Union Bridge Co. v. United States, 204 U. S. 364; United States v. Heinszen, 206 U. S. 370; St. Louis, I. M. & S. Ry. Co. v. Taylor, 210 U. S. 281; Monongahela Bridge Co. v. United States, 216 U. S. 177. We do not stop to review these cases because the mere statement of the contention in the light of its environment suffices to destroy it. How can it otherwise be since the argument as applied to the case before us is this: that the authority in question was validly delegated so long as it was lodged in carriers but ceased to be susceptible of delegation the instant it was taken from the carriers for the purpose of being lodged in a public administrative body? Indeed, when it is considered that in last analysis the argument is advanced to sustain the right of carriers to exert the public power which it is insisted is not susceptible of delegation, it is apparent that the contention is self-contradictory since it reduces itself to an effort to sustain the right to delegate a power by contending that the power is not capable of being delegated. In addition, however, before passing from the proposition we observe that when rightly appreciated the contention but challenges every decided case since the
passage of the Act to Regulate Commerce in 1887 involving the rightfulness of the exertion by a carrier of the power to meet competition as a means of being relieved from the long and short-haul clause of the fourth section before its amendment. While what we have already said answers it, because of its importance we notice another contention. As the power of carriers to meet competition and the relation of that right to non-competitive places may concern the fortunes of numberless individuals and the progress and development of many communities, it is said, to permit authority to be exerted concerning the subject without definite rules for its exercise will be to destroy the rights of persons and communities. This danger, the argument proceeds, is not obviated by declaring that the provisions of the second and third sections as to undue preference and discrimination apply to the fourth section since without a definition of what constitutes undue preference and discrimination, no definite rule of law is established but whim, caprice or favor will in the nature of things control the power exerted. And it is argued that this view is not here urged as the mere result of conjecture, since in the report of the Commission in this case it was declared in unequivocal terms as the basis of the order entered that the statute vested in the Commission a wide and undefined discretion by virtue of which it became its duty to see to it that communities and individuals obtained fair opportunities, that discord was allayed and commercial justice everywhere given full play. Let it be conceded that the language relied upon would have the far-reaching significance attributed to it if separated from its context, we think when it is read in connection with the report of which it but forms a part, and moreover when it is elucidated by the action taken by the Commission there is no substantial ground for holding that by the language referred to it was entitled to declare that the fourth section as amended conferred the uncon
trolled exuberance of vague and destructive powers which it is now insisted was intended to be claimed. In any event, however, we must be governed by the statute and its plain meaning. After all has been said the provisions as to undue preference and discrimination, while involving of course a certain latitude of judgment and discretion are no more undefined or uncertain in the section as amended than they have been from the beginning and therefore the argument comes once more to the complaint that because public powers have been transferred from the carriers to the Commission, the wrongs suggested will arise. Accurately testing this final result of the argument it is clear that it exclusively rests upon convictions concerning the impolicy of having taken from carriers, intimately and practically acquainted as they are with the complex factors entering into rate making and moreover impelled to equality of treatment as they must be by the law of self interest operating upon them as a necessary result of the economic forces to which they are subjected, and having lodged the power in an official administrative body which in the nature of things must act, however conscientiously, from conceptions based upon a more theoretical and less practical point of view. But this does not involve a grievance based upon the construction or application of the fourth section as amended but upon the wisdom of the legislative judgment which was brought into play in adopting the amendment, a subject with which we have nothing in the world to do. It is said in the argument on behalf of one of the carriers that as in substance and effect the duty is imposed upon the Commission in a proper case to refuse an application, therefore the law is void because in such a contingency the statute would amount to an imperative enforcement of the long and short-haul clause and would be repugnant to the Constitution. It is conceded in the argument that it has been directly decided by this court that a general enforcement
of the long and short-haul clause would not be repugnant to the Constitution (Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Kentucky, 183 U. S. 503), but we are asked to reconsider and overrule the case and thus correct the error which was manifested in deciding it. But we are not in the remotest degree inclined to enter into this inquiry, not only because of the reasons which were stated in the case itself but also because of those already expounded in this opinion and for an additional reason which is that the contention by necessary implication assails the numerous cases which from the enactment of the Act to Regulate Commerce down to the present time have involved the adequacy of the conditions advanced by carriers for justifying their departure from the long and short-haul clause. We say this because the controversies which the many cases referred to considered and decided by a necessary postulate involved an assertion of the validity of the legislative power to apply and enforce the long and short-haul clause. How can it be otherwise since if this were not the case all the issues presented in the numerous cases would have been merely but moot, affording therefore no basis for judicial action since they would have had back of them no sanction of lawful power whatever.
3. The jurisdiction of the court.
The argument on this subject is twofold: (a) that as by the act creating the Commerce Court (June 18, 1910, c. 309, 36 Stat. 539) that court was endowed only with the jurisdiction "now possessed by circuit courts of the United States and the judges thereof" and provided that "nothing contained in this act shall be construed as enlarging the jurisdiction now possessed by the circuit courts of the United States or the judges thereof, that is hereby transferred to and vested in the commerce court" and as new powers were created by the subsequent amendment of the fourth section, therefore the Commerce Court had no jurisdiction. But we pass any extended discussion of
the proposition because it is completely disposed of by the construction which we have given to the amended section since that construction makes it clear that the effect of the amended fourth section was not to create new powers theretofore non-existing, but simply to redistribute the powers already existing and which were then subject to review. The argument affords another manifestation of the tendency to which we have already directed attention in this case to seek to maintain and aggrandize a power by insisting upon propositions which, if they were accepted, would raise the gravest question as to the constitutional validity of the asserted power, a question which we need not at all consider in view of the want of foundation for the exercise of the power claimed in the light of the plain meaning of the act to the contrary which we have already pointed out.
(b) The second contention as to jurisdiction yet further affords an illustration of the same mental attitude, since it rests upon the assumption that the order of the Commission refusing to grant the request of the carrier made under the fourth section was purely negative and hence was not subject to judicial inquiry. The contention therefore presupposes that the power which from the beginning has been the subject of judicial review by the mere fact of its transfer to the Commission was made arbitrary. Besides, the proposition disregards the fact that the right to petition the Commission conferred by the statute is positive and while the refusal to grant it may be in one sense negative, in another and broader view it is affirmative since it refuses that which the statute in affirmative terms declares shall be granted if only the conditions which the statute provides are found to exist. It is of course true as pointed out in Interstate Commerce Commission v. Illinois Central Railroad, 215 U. S. 452, 470, and since repeatedly applied that findings of fact made by the Commission within the scope of its administrative