ICC v. Louisville & Nashville R. Co. - 227 U.S. 88 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
ICC v. Louisville & Nashville R. Co., 227 U.S. 88 (1913)
Interstate Commerce Commission v.
Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company
Argued October 17, 18, 1912
Decided January 20, 1913
227 U.S. 88
The Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended by the Hepburn Act, gives a right to a full hearing on the subject of rates, and that confers the privilege of introducing testimony and imposes the duty of deciding in accordance with the facts proved.
A finding without evidence is arbitrary and useless, and an act of Congress granting authority to any body to make a finding without evidence would be inconsistent with justice, and an exercise of arbitrary power condemned by the Constitution.
Administrative orders quasi-judicial in character are void if a hearing is denied; if the hearing granted is manifestly unfair, if the finding is indisputably contrary to the evidence, or if the facts found do not, as matter of law, support the order made.
Administrative orders can only be reviewed by the court where a justiciable question is presented, and, where the act provides for judicial review of such orders, it will be construed as providing for a hearing so that the court may consider matters within the scope of judicial power.
Under the Act to Regulate Commerce, the carrier retains the primary right to make rates, and the power of the Commission to alter them depends upon the existence of the fact of their unreasonableness, and, in the absence of evidence to that effect, the Commission has no jurisdiction.
The legal effect of evidence is a question of law, and a finding without evidence is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission.
Where the party affected is entitled to a hearing, the Interstate Commerce Commission cannot base an order establishing a rate on the information which it has gathered for general purposes under the provisions of § 12 of the act. The order must be based on evidence produced in the particular proceeding.
In this case, the Interstate Commerce Commission having found, after
taking evidence, that the new rates were excessive and that the through rate which exceeded the sum of the locals should have been lowered, instead of the locals being raised to equal the through rate, this Court holds that the finding, having been based on evidence, should not be disturbed, and that the order of the Commission was proper.
The value of evidence in rate proceedings varies, and the weight to be given to it is peculiarly for the body experienced in regard to rates and familiar with the intricacies of ratemaking.
When rail rates are advanced with the disappearance of water competition, no inference adverse to the railroad can be drawn, but when the old rates had been maintained for several years after such disappearance, there is a presumption, if the rate are raised, that the advance is made for other reasons.
In this case, the order of the Commission restoring local rates that had been in force many years between New Orleans and neighboring cities and making a corresponding reduction in through rates was not arbitrary, but was sustained by substantial, although conflicting, evidence, and the courts cannot settle such a controversy or put their judgment against that of the Commission, which is the ratemaking body.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Act to Regulate Commerce in regard to the provisions of the Hepburn Act for fixing rates, are stated in the opinion.