Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. ICC - 215 U.S. 216 (1909)


U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. ICC, 215 U.S. 216 (1909)

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company

v. Interstate Commerce Commission

No. 339

Argued October 15, 18, 1909

Decided December 6, 1909

215 U.S. 216

Syllabus

Only distinct points of law that can be distinctly answered without regard to other issues can be certified to this Court on division of opinion: the whole case cannot be certified, even when its decision turns upon matters of law only.

Appellate jurisdiction implies the determination of the case by an inferior court, and the transfer of the case to the appellate court without such determination amounts to giving the appellate court original jurisdiction.

Page 215 U. S. 217

Congress cannot extend the original jurisdiction of this Court beyond that prescribed by the Constitution, and an act providing for certifying questions of law will not be construed as permitting certification of the entire case before any judgment has been rendered below.

Under § 1 of the Expediting Act of February 11, 1903, c. 544, 32 Stat. 823, the case, although turning only on a point of law, cannot be certified to this Court in absence of any judgment, opinion, decision, or order determinative of the case below.

This was a bill in equity filed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company in the circuit court of the United States for the District of Maryland against the Interstate Commerce Commission, July 20, 1908, which prayed for a preliminary injunction and a final decree enjoining, annulling, and suspending a certain order of the Commission served June 24, 1908, in a proceeding before the Commission, entitled, "Rail & River Coal Co. v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company."

On July 27, 1908, the Attorney General, in compliance with § 5 of the Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended by the Act of June 29, 1906, filed in the Court the certificate of general public importance under the Expedition Act of February 11, 1903. In accordance with the provisions of the Act of February 11, 1903, the two circuit judges, by order filed August 26, 1908, designated the Honorable Thomas J. Morris, District Judge for the District of Maryland, to sit with them on the hearing and disposition of the case.

The application for the preliminary injunction was set for hearing September 22, 1908. Defendant's answer was filed September 19, 1908. By order entered September 23, 1908, the application for the preliminary injunction was denied.

Replication was filed and testimony taken, and, there being no substantial dispute as to the facts, Mr. Arthur Hale, complainant's general superintendent of transportation and also chairman of the car efficiency committee of the American Railway Association, was able to testify as to all matters

Page 215 U. S. 218

that counsel deemed necessary to bring to the court's attention, and was the only witness.

December 14, 1908, the cause came on for final hearing, and was argued before the two circuit judges and the district judge designated by them. No final decree or judgment was entered, but the presiding judge entered the following order:

"This cause came on this day to be further heard, and was argued by counsel, and the court, having fully considered the bill, answer, deposition, and other papers filed herein, the judges sitting finding themselves divided in opinion as to the decree that should be entered herein."

"It is now ordered, that, in accordance with the act of Congress applicable hereto, that this case be certified for review to the Supreme Court of the United States."

"December 14, 1908."

The cause was docketed in this Court and the transcript of record filed January 25, 1909, as "on a certificate from the circuit court of the United States for the District of Maryland."

The Act of Congress of February 11, 1903, 32 Stat. 823, c. 544, contains two sections, as follows:

"(1) That in any suit in equity pending or hereafter brought in any circuit court of the United States under the act entitled 'An Act to Protect Trade and Commerce against Unlawful Restraints and Monopolies,' approved July second, eighteen hundred and ninety, 'An Act to Regulate Commerce,' approved February fourth, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, or any other acts having a like purpose that hereafter may be enacted, wherein the United States is complainant, the Attorney General may file with the clerk of such court a certificate that, in his opinion, the case is of general public importance, a copy of which shall be immediately furnished by such clerk to each of the circuit judges of the circuit in which the case is pending. Thereupon such case shall be given precedence over others, and in every way expedited,

Page 215 U. S. 219

and be assigned for hearing at the earliest practicable day, before not less than three of the circuit judges of said circuit, if there be three or more, and, if there be not more than two circuit judges, then before them and such district judge as they may select. In the event the judges sitting in such case shall be divided in opinion, the case shall be certified to the Supreme Court for review in like manner as if taken there by appeal as hereinafter provided."

"SEC. 2. That in every suit in equity pending or hereafter brought in any circuit court of the United States under any of said acts, wherein the United States is complainant, including cases submitted but not yet decided, an appeal from the final decree of the circuit court will lie only to the Supreme Court, and must be taken within sixty days from the entry thereof: Provided, That in any case where an appeal may have been taken from the final decree of a circuit court to the circuit court of appeals before this act takes effect, the case shall proceed to a final decree therein, and an appeal may be taken from such decree to the Supreme Court in the manner now provided by law."

Section 5 of the Hepburn Act, so called, of June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 584, 592, c. 359, provides:

"The venue of suits brought in any of the circuit courts of the United States against the commission to enjoin, set aside, annul, or suspend any order or requirement of the commission, shall be in the district where the carrier against whom such order or requirement may have been made has its principal operating office, and may be brought at any time after such order is promulgated."

"* * * *"

"The provisions of 'An Act to Expedite the Hearing and Determination of Suits in Equity,' and so forth, approved February eleventh, nineteen hundred and three, shall be, and are hereby, made applicable to all such suits, including the hearing on an application for a preliminary injunction, and are also made applicable to any proceeding in equity to

Page 215 U. S. 220

enforce any order or requirement of the commission, or any of the provisions of the Act to Regulate Commerce, approved February fourth, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, and all acts amendatory thereof or supplemental thereto. It shall be the duty of the Attorney General in every such case to file the certificate provided for in said expediting act of February eleventh, nineteen hundred and three, as necessary to the application of the provisions thereof, and upon appeal, as therein authorized, to the Supreme Court of the United States, the case shall have in such court priority in hearing and determination over all other causes except criminal causes. . . . An appeal may be taken from any interlocutory order or decree granting or continuing an injunction in any suit, but shall lie only to the Supreme Court of the United States: Provided further, That the appeal must be taken within thirty days from the entry of such order or decree, and it shall take precedence in the appellate court over all other causes, except causes of like character and criminal causes."



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