United States v. Seatrain Lines, Inc.
329 U.S. 424 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Seatrain Lines, Inc., 329 U.S. 424 (1947)

United States v. Seatrain Lines, Inc.

No. 61

Argued December 9, 1946

Decided January 6, 1947

329 U.S. 424

Syllabus

Pursuant to Part III of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued to a common carrier by water, whose vessels had special facilities for carrying loaded railroad cars and tank space for liquid cargoes in bulk, a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing it to carry "commodities generally" between certain ports subject "to such terms, conditions, and limitations as are now, or may hereafter be, attached to the exercise of such authority by the Commission." Later, the Commission, on its own motion and over the protest of the carrier, reopened the proceedings and issued an order directing the cancellation of the original certificate and the issuance of a new one, which deprived the carrier of its right to carry "commodities generally" and limited it to carrying liquid cargoes in bulk, empty railroad cars, and property loaded in freight cars received from and delivered to rail carriers.

Held:

1. The Commission had no authority to cancel the original certificate. Pp. 329 U. S. 428-433.

2. It is apparent from the record in this case that the proceedings were not reopened to correct a clerical mistake in the issuance of the original certificate, but to execute a subsequently adopted policy of holding that a certificate to carry "commodities generally" did not authorize water carriage of freight cars. Pp. 329 U. S. 428-429.

3. The Commission has no express authority to revoke a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued to water carriers under Part III of the Act. Pp. 329 U. S. 429-431.

4. The order was not within the Commission's authority under § 309(d) to fix "terms, conditions and limitations" for water carrier certificate holders. Pp. 329 U. S. 431-432.

5. Nor was it within the Commission's authority under § 315(c) to "suspend, modify, or set aside its orders," since the Act makes a clear distinction between "orders" and "certificates." P. 329 U. S. 432.

6. When a certificate of public convenience and necessity has been finally granted to a water carrier under Part III of the Act,

Page 329 U. S. 425

and the time fixed for rehearing has passed, it is not subject to revocation in whole or in part, except as specifically authorized by Congress. Pp. 329 U. S. 432-433.

64 F. Supp. 156, affirmed.

Having issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to a water carrier under Part III of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Interstate Commerce Commission subsequently ordered its cancellation and the issuance of a new certificate substantially curtailing the rights granted. 260 I.C.C. 430. The District Court set aside the Commission's order. 64 F.Supp. 156. Affirmed, p. 329 U. S. 433.

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