ICC v. Chicago, R.I. & Pacific Ry. Co.
218 U.S. 88 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

ICC v. Chicago, R.I. & Pacific Ry. Co., 218 U.S. 88 (1910)

Interstate Commerce Commission v. Chicago,

Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company

Nos. 663, 664

Argued April 5, 6, 1910

Decided May 31, 1910

218 U.S. 88




The Interstate Commerce Commission having made an order reducing rates between Mississippi River points and Missouri River cities, the railroad companies brought suit to enjoin the enforcement of the order, claiming that it was made not for the mere purpose of fixing just rates, but for the purpose of artificially apportioning the country into zones tributary to trade centers, which was beyond the power of the Commission. The claim was made that the rates as reduced were confiscatory within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. The circuit court so held, and enjoined the rate. On appeal to this Court, held: that:

The Interstate Commerce Commission did not base its order on an effort to apportion the country into zones tributary to trade centers and to build up new trade centers.

The outlook of the Interstate Commerce Commission and its powers are greater than the interests of the railroads, and are as comprehensive as the interests of the entire country.

The Interstate Commerce Commission was instituted to prevent discrimination between persons and places; rates may not only be investigated and pronounced unreasonable or discriminatory, but other rates may be prescribed.

The power of the Interstate Commerce Commission extends to the regulation of rates, whether the same be old or new, notwithstanding that interests attached to the rates may have to be changed in case the Commission exercises its power.

Railroad companies may complain of an order of the Commission reducing rates so far as it affects their revenue. They cannot complain of it simply because it affects shippers or places.

Page 218 U. S. 89

The primary jurisdiction as to fixing rate under the Interstate Commerce Act is with the Commission, and the power of the court is confined to a review of question of constitutional power exercised by the Commission.

In this case, the only question being as to power and the rates' not being confiscatory and the Commission's having acted within it power, the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the bill.

171 F. 680 reversed.

The facts, which involve the validity of certain orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission affecting railroad freight rates to points known as Missouri River cities, are stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question in the case is the validity of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission reducing the class rates charged by the appellee railroad companies on through freight shipped from the Atlantic seaboard to

Page 218 U. S. 90

Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska, cities on the Missouri River, and called throughout the record, and in this opinion, Missouri River cities.

The through class rates were reduced from 1/147, 2/120, 3/93, 4/68, 5/57 in cents per 100 pounds to 1/138, 2/113, 3/88, 4/64, 5/54. The numbers above the lines indicate the classes, and the numbers below the lines the rates.

The reduction was made in that part of the through rate which applied to the haul between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Explaining its order of reduction, the Commission said the through rates from Atlantic seaboard terminals to the Missouri River cities are made by adding together the rates from points of origin to the Mississippi River crossings, using proportional rates when such were available, and the local rates from the Mississippi crossings to the Missouri River cities. The through rates the Commission pronounced to be unreasonably high

"because those portions of the through rates which apply between the Mississippi River crossings and the Missouri River cities are too high. These are defendants' 'separately established rates,' which are 'applied to the through transportation,' and therefore the through rates should be adjusted by reduction of those factors or parts thereof which are found to be unreasonable."

The division of the rates, as established by the railroad, was as follows: from New York to the several Mississippi River crossings on traffic moving through them to points beyond, in cents per 100 pounds, 1/87, 2/75, 3/58, 4/41, 5/35. From the Mississippi River crossings to the Missouri River cities, 1/60, 2/45, 3/35, 4/27, 5/22. The latter are local class rates under the Western classification, and are those which the Commission adjudged too high, and which it reduced in cents per 100 pounds, to the following: 1/51, 2/38, 3/30, 4/23, 5/19. The amount of reduction it will be observed, is nine cents on first-class freight and a proportional reduction on the other four classes.

The order of the Commission required the railroad

Page 218 U. S. 91

companies to cease and desist on or before the twenty-fifth of August, 1908, from charging, demanding, or collecting anything in excess of the rates last above set out, and the companies were required to put such rates in force before the twenty-fifth of August, 1908, and maintain them for a period of not less than two years.

The proceedings before the Commission were begun by a petition filed by appellants in case No. 664, who were doing business in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska. They alleged that they were engaged in either the mercantile or manufacturing business, and in buying and selling various commodities shipped from the Atlantic seaboard to them, respectively, under the definite freight classifications maintained by the railroad companies. The rates, according to the classifications, from New York to St. Paul and Minneapolis, and rates from New York to Chicago, and from the latter city to Kansas City, St. Joseph, and Omaha, the petition alleged,

"are arrived at by adding to the rates from Mississippi River points, as shown above, the following rates, subject to official classification, to-wit: 87

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