Florida v. United States - 282 U.S. 194 (1931)
U.S. Supreme Court
Florida v. United States, 282 U.S. 194 (1931)
Florida v. United States
Nos. 16, 17, and 18
Argued October 30, 31, 1930
Decided January 5, 1931
282 U.S. 194
1. An order of the Interstate Commerce Commission requiring a railroad to increase its intrastate rates throughout an entire state to correspond with interstate rates prescribed by the Commission for potential traffic in the same commodity between points in a limited region of that state and points in an adjacent state, cannot be sustained under § 13(4) of the Interstate Commerce Act as an execution of the power to remove undue prejudice "as between persons or localities in intrastate commerce, on the one hand, and interstate . . . commerce, on the other hand," in the absence of explicit findings by the Commission justifying such extension of the order. P. 282 U. S. 208.
2. An order of the Commission fixing certain interstate rates and requiring an increase of intrastate rates to the same level, which was made after hearing the parties interested, including the states concerned, should not be upset merely because of the manner in which the proceeding was initiated or because of the generality of the complaint, if findings based on evidence show that, in substance, the order was within the Commission's authority. P. 282 U. S. 209.
3. The power over rates "made or imposed by authority of any state," which is conferred upon the Commission by § 13(3) and (4) of the Interstate Commerce Act to protect interstate commerce from unjust discrimination, applies to rates which were initiated by a carrier and not affirmatively prescribed by the state, but which were published under its laws and are maintained subject to its authority. P. 282 U. S. 209.
4. The general provisions of § 13(4) prohibiting "unjust discrimination against interstate commerce," and authorizing the Commission to establish intrastate rates to prevent such discrimination, is to be considered in the light of the affirmative duty of the Commission
under § 15(a) to fix rates and take other important steps to maintain an adequate national railway system. P. 282 U. S. 210.
5. The effective operation of the Act requires that intrastate traffic should pay a fair proportionate share of the cost of maintenance. And if there is interference with the accomplishment of the purpose of the Congress because of a disparity between intrastate rates and interstate rates, the Commission is authorized to end the disparity by directly removing it. P. 282 U. S. 211.
6. The propriety of an exertion of this authority must be tested by its relation to the purpose of the grant, and with regard to the principle that, whenever the federal power is exerted within what would otherwise be the domain of state power, the justification of the exercise of the federal power must clearly appear. P. 282 U. S. 211.
7. The mere existence of a disparity between particular rates on intrastate and interstate traffic does not warrant the Commission in prescribing intrastate rates. P. 282 U. S. 211.
8. If the action of the Commission is not simply for the removal of undue prejudice against interstate commerce as between persons or localities, and the Commission undertakes to prescribe a statewide level of intrastate rates in order to avoid an undue burden, from a revenue standpoint, upon the interstate carrier, there should be appropriate findings upon evidence to support an order directed to that end. P. 282 U. S. 212.
9. In the present instance (where the Commission did not undertake to establish a statewide level of interstate rates) to sustain the order fixing statewide intrastate rates, there should have been findings, supported by evidence, of the essential facts as to the particular traffic and revenue, and as to the effect of the intrastate rates, both existing and as prescribed, upon the income of the carrier, which would justify the conclusion that the order was needed to avoid an undue burden on the carrier's revenues and a consequent interference with the maintenance of an adequate transportation system. A general statement that the intrastate rates resulted "in unjust discrimination against interstate commerce" will not suffice. P. 282 U. S. 212.
10. A finding that the existing intrastate rates on the particular traffic were not remunerative or reasonably compensatory does not justify the order. P. 282 U. S. 214.
11. In dealing with unjust discrimination as between persons and localities in relation to interstate commerce, the question is one of the relation of rates to each other; but, in considering the authority of the Commission to enter the state field and to change a scale of
intrastate rates in the interest of the carrier's revenue, the question is that of the relation of rates to income. P. 282 U. S. 214.
12. The raising of rates does not necessarily increase revenue; it may reduce it by discouraging patronage. Id.
13. In the absence of basic findings essential to support the Commission's order, the Court is not called upon to examine the evidence in order to resolve opposing contentions as to what it shows, or to spell out and state such conclusions of fact as it may permit. Beamont, S.L. & W. R. Co. v. United States, ante, p. 282 U. S. 74, distinguished. P. 282 U. S. 215.
30 F.2d 116, 31 id. 580, reversed.
Appeal from decrees of the district court upholding an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission reducing intrastate rates in three suits to set it aside.