Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp.
331 U.S. 218 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218 (1947)

Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp.

No. 470

Argued February 13, 14, 1947

Decided May 5, 1947*

331 U.S. 218

Syllabus

1. By the 1931 amendments to §§ 6 and 29 of the United States Warehouse Act, Congress terminated the dual system of regulation provided by the original Act and substituted an exclusive system of federal regulation of warehouses licensed under the Federal Act with reference to the subjects covered thereby, except to the extent that express exceptions in the Federal Act subject certain phases of the business to state regulation. Pp. 331 U. S. 229-236, p. 331 U. S. 234, n. 12.

2. Warehouses licensed under the United States Warehouse Act need not obtain state licenses or comply with state laws regulating those phases of the business which are regulated under the Federal Act, except those phases of the business which the Federal Act expressly subjects to state law. Pp. 331 U. S. 234-236, p. 331 U. S. 234, n. 12.

3. As amended, the Federal Act is not merely paramount over state law in the event of conflict, but completely supersedes the state law, except to the extent that it fails to cover the field or makes express exceptions in favor of state law. Pp. 234- 331 U. S. 236, p. 331 U. S. 234, n. 12.

4. The test of applicability of state laws is whether the matter on which the State asserts the right to act is in any way regulated by the Federal Act. If it is, the federal scheme prevails though it is a more modest, less pervasive regulatory plan than that of the State. P. 331 U. S. 236.

5. By this test, each of the following matters is beyond the reach of state law, since Congress has declared its policy with reference to them in the United States Warehouse Act (p. 331 U. S. 236):

(1) Just and reasonable rates. Pp. 331 U. S. 224, 331 U. S. 236.

(2) Discrimination. Pp. 331 U. S. 225, 331 U. S. 236.

(3) Dual position of warehousemen. Pp. 331 U. S. 225, 331 U. S. 236.

(4) Mixing high quality public grain with inferior grain owned by warehouseman, delay in loading grain. Pp. 331 U. S. 226, 331 U. S. 236.

(5) Sacrificing or rebating storage charges, retaining desirable transit tonnage, utilizing preferred storage space. Pp. 331 U. S. 227, 331 U. S. 236.

Page 331 U. S. 219

(6) Maintenance of unsafe and inadequate elevators; inadequate and inefficient warehouse service. Pp. 331 U. S. 227, 331 U. S. 236.

(7) Operating without a state license. Pp. 331 U. S. 228, 331 U. S. 236.

(8) Abandonment of warehousing service. Pp. 331 U. S. 228, 331 U. S. 236.

(9) Failure to file and publish rate schedules; rendering warehousing service without filing and publishing schedules. Pp. 331 U. S. 229, 331 U. S. 236.

6. In the absence of any actual conflict with the Federal Act, the states are free to continue to regulate matters which are not regulated by the Federal Act, e.g.:

(1) Failure to secure prior approval of state officials for management, construction, engineering, supply, financial and other contracts between the warehouseman and its affiliates. P. 331 U. S. 236.

(2) Failure to secure prior approval of contracts and leases between the warehouseman and other public utilities. Pp. 331 U. S. 236-237.

(3) Failure to secure approval of issuance of securities. Pp. 331 U. S. 236-237.

156 F.2d 33, affirmed in part, reversed in part.

A district court dismissed suits brought by a warehouseman licensed under the United States Warehouse Act to enjoin further proceedings on a complaint filed by one of his customers with the Illinois Commerce Commission alleging violations of the Illinois Public Utilities Act, Ill.Rev. Stats.1945, ch. 111 2/3, the Illinois Grain Warehouse Act, Ill.Rev. Stats.1945, ch. 114, §§ 189 et seq., and Art. XIII of the Illinois Constitution, and to enjoin the Attorney General of Illinois from instituting proceedings against the warehouseman to enforce any order of the Commission in the matter. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, on the ground that the United States Warehouse Act superseded state regulation of warehousemen licensed thereunder as to the matters presented in the complaint. 156 F.2d 33. This Court granted certiorari. 329 U.S. 701. The writs were dismissed as to certain parties, including the Great Lakes Elevator Corporation. 330 U.S. 810. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, p. 331 U. S. 238.

Page 331 U. S. 220

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