United States v. Merchants' &c. Assn.
242 U.S. 178 (1916)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Merchants' &c. Assn., 242 U.S. 178 (1916)

United States v. Merchants' & Manufacturers

Traffic Association of Sacramento

No. 452

Argued October 19, 1916

Decided December 4, 1916

242 U.S. 178

Syllabus

Appellant carriers made applications to the Interstate Commerce Commission, under § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended by the Act of June 18, 1910, c. 309, 36 Stat. 539, 547, for authority to continue existing tariffs (and, more generally, to continue an existing method) whereby rates were made lower for certain ports and inland cities than for certain places less distant from points of origin.

Held that, in passing on such applications, the Commission was empowered, while granting the relief as asked in respect of the ports, to grant it in a less degree only in respect of the inland cities, thus making a distinction between them and the ports not made by the tariffs or sought for in the applications.

The power of the Commission, under § 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended June 18, 1910, is not limited to granting or denying in toto the precise relief applied for by a carrier, but whenever, following such an application, the Commission has considered the special circumstances affecting the particular carrier in its relations to that section, it may exercise a broad administrative discretion in determining from time to time the relief which such carrier should receive.

Quaere whether application by the carrier is a prerequisite to the granting of relief under § 4 as amended.

In a proceeding under § 4, as amended, the Commission represents the public, and the carrier is the only necessary party; interested communities and shippers, though customarily heard, need not be notified, and, at least in the absence of participation, are not bound.

Such shippers or communities as deem themselves injured by discrimination or unreasonable rates in tariffs filed pursuant to orders made by the Commission under amended § 4 have their remedy not in applying for a rehearing of the proceedings in which such orders were made, but by direct applications to the Commission for relief under §§ 13 and 15.

That part of amended § 4 which provides that, when rates have been reduced in competition with water routes, they shall not be increased unless, upon hearing, the Commission finds a reason in changes of conditions other than the elimination of water competition, has no application to a case in which the complaint is based not on increase, but on difference of rates, in which the elimination of water competition is denied by the parties complaining, and in which the change complained of was part of a general readjustment of transcontinental rates made necessary by increase of water competition and authorized by the Commission after prolonged hearings.

231 F. 292, reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 242 U. S. 182

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