Grand Trunk Ry. Co. v. Michigan R. Comm'n
231 U.S. 457 (1913)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Grand Trunk Ry. Co. v. Michigan R. Comm'n, 231 U.S. 457 (1913)

Grand Trunk Railway Company v.

Michigan Railroad Commission

No. 382

Argued October 23, 24, 1913

Decided December 8, 1913

231 U.S. 457

Syllabus

A state is competent to create a commission and give it power of regulating railroads and investigating conditions upon which regulation may be directed, and the judiciary will only interfere with such a commission when it appears that it has clearly transcended its powers.

Courts are reluctant to interfere with the laws of a state or with the tribunals constituted to enforce them; doubts will not be resolved against the law.

It cannot as yet be asserted that Congress has, to the exclusion of the states, taken over the whole subject of carriers' terminals, switchings, and sidings, and quaere where the accommodation between intrastate and interstate commerce shall be made.

The fact that a movement of freight begins and ends within the limits of a city does not take from it its character of an actual transportation between two termini, and so held in regard to transportation between junction points in Detroit, Michigan.

While a city may be in some senses a terminal unit, the State Railroad Commission may regulate traffic between different points therein as transportation, and to do so does not amount to an appropriation of the terminals of one road for the use and benefit of other roads.

Transportation is the business of railroads, and when and to what extent that business may be regulated so depends upon circumstances that

Page 231 U. S. 458

no inflexible rule can be laid down. Wisconsin &c. R. Co. v. Jacobson,179 U. S. 287.

If the provisions for penalties in a statute creating railroad commission and providing for the enforcement of the orders made by it are separable, as in this case, their constitutionality can be determined when their enforcement is attempted, and the operation of the whole act will not be suspended before that event. Louis. & Nash. R. Co. v. Garret, ante, p. 231 U. S. 298.

Railroad companies are incorporated for purposes of transportation, and the fact that a company was not specifically incorporated to carry on intracity transportation cannot prevail against the power of the state to regulate it in regard to legitimate elements of transportation within the city.

An order of the Michigan Railroad Commission requiring certain railroads doing an interstate business to use their tracks within the city limits of Detroit for the interchange of intrastate traffic sustained as being within the regulating power of the commission, and also held that such order was not unconstitutional as interfering with interstate commerce or as depriving the carriers of their property without due process of law.

198 F. 1009 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of an order of the Michigan Railroad Commission relative to intrastate transportation and switch connections in the City of Detroit, are stated in the opinion.

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