California v. Zook
336 U.S. 725 (1949)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

California v. Zook, 336 U.S. 725 (1949)

California v. Zook

No. 355

Argued February 8, 1949

Decided April 25, 1949

336 U.S. 725




1. A California statute prohibits the sale or arrangement of any transportation over the public highways of the State if the transporting carrier has no permit from the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Federal Motor Carrier Act has substantially the same provision respecting carriers in interstate commerce. Respondents operate a travel bureau in Los Angeles, and receive commissions for arranging "share expense" passenger transportation in private automobiles. State lines are crossed in many of the trips. Respondents were convicted of violating the state statute.

Held: The state statute, as so applied, is not invalid under the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 726-738.

2. The fact that a federal law and a state law affecting interstate commerce are identical does not automatically invalidate the state law; the question to be determined, by a judgment upon the particular case, is whether the state law conflicts with national policy and whether Congress intended to make its jurisdiction exclusive. Pp. 336 U. S. 728-731.

3. Normally, congressional purpose to displace local laws must be clearly manifested, and, if the claim is conflict in terms, it must clearly appear that the federal provisions are inconsistent with those of the state. P. 336 U. S. 733.

4. The tradition of "usual police powers" is of aid in determining congressional intent as to excluding state action on interstate commerce, at least when Congress has legislated, and states clearly have an interest in regulating the use of their own highways. Pp. 336 U. S. 734-735.

5. In this case, there is no conflict in terms between the federal and California statutes, and no possibility of such conflict, since the state statute makes federal law the law of the state in this matter. P. 336 U. S. 735.

6. There is no indication in this case that Congress intended to substitute a uniform federal law for diverse state laws, for there was little state legislation on the subject when Congress acted. Pp. 336 U. S. 735-736.

Page 336 U. S. 726

7. The state statute is not rendered invalid by the fact that it imposes heavier penalties than the federal act, nor by the possibility of double punishment. Pp. 336 U. S. 731-733, 336 U. S. 735-738.

8. Difficulties confronting state regulation of other phases of interstate commerce cannot justify exclusion of the state regulation here involved. P. 336 U. S. 736.

9. The validity of the California statute here involved, which does not conflict with Interstate Commerce Commission policy, is not affected by an earlier state statute which did conflict with that policy. P. 336 U. S. 737.

10. So far as casual, occasional, or reciprocal transportation of passengers for hire is concerned, the State may punish, as it has in the present case, for the safety and welfare of its inhabitants; the Federal Government may punish for the safety and welfare of interstate commerce. P. 336 U. S. 738.

87 Call.App.2d 921, 197 P.2d 851, reversed.

Respondents were convicted of violating a California penal statute. The conviction was reversed, and the complaint was ordered dismissed, by the highest court of the State in which a decision could be had. 87 Cal.App.2d Supp. 921, 197 P.2d 851. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 883. Reversed, p. 336 U. S. 738.

MR. JUSTICE MURPHY delivered the opinion of the Court.

A California statute prohibits the sale or arrangement of any transportation over the public highways of the State if the transporting carrier has no permit from the Interstate Commerce Commission. [Footnote 1] The federal Motor

Page 336 U. S. 727

Carrier Act has substantially the same provision. [Footnote 2] The question is whether the State act as applied in this case is invalid in view of the federal act.

Respondents operate a travel bureau in Los Angeles, and receive commissions for arranging "share-expense" passenger transportation in automobiles. Owners of private cars desiring passengers for a trip register with respondents' agency, as do prospective passengers. State lines are crossed in many of the trips. Until 1942, the federal act specifically exempted such "casual, occasional, or reciprocal" transportation. [Footnote 3] But, in that year, the Interstate Commerce Commission removed the exemption, [Footnote 4] as the Motor Carrier Act empowered it to do. [Footnote 5] Both the California and federal statutes now require respondents to sell transportation only in carriers having permits from the ICC.

Respondents were prosecuted under the State act. They admitted their unlawful activity, but demurred to the criminal complaint on the sole ground that the State statute entered an exclusive congressional domain. The trial court disagreed, and entered a judgment of conviction,

Page 336 U. S. 728

but the appellate court [Footnote 6] upheld respondents' contention, and ordered the complaint dismissed. 87 Cal.App.2d Supp. 921, 197 P.2d 851. The case is here on certiorari, 335 U.S. 883.

Certain first principles are no longer in doubt. Whether as inference from congressional silence or as a negative implication from the grant of power itself, when Congress has not specifically acted, we have accepted the Cooley case's broad delineation of the areas of state and national power over interstate commerce. Cooley v. Port Wardens, 12 How. 299; Southern Pacific Co. v. Arizona,325 U. S. 761, 325 U. S. 768. See Ribble, State and National Power Over Commerce, ch. 10. Absent congressional action, the familiar test is that of uniformity versus locality: if a case falls within an area in commerce thought to demand a uniform national rule, State action is struck down. If the activity is one of predominantly local interest, State action is sustained. More accurately, the question is whether the State interest is outweighed by a national interest in the unhampered operation of interstate commerce.

There is no longer any question that Congress can redefine the areas of local and national predominance, Prudential Insurance Co. v. Benjamin,328 U. S. 408; Southern Pacific Co. v. Arizona, supra, at 325 U. S. 769, despite theoretical inconsistency with the rationale of the Commerce Clause, art. 1, § 8, cl. 3, as a limitation in its own right. The words of the Clause -- a grant of power -- admit of no other result. When Congress enters the field by legislation, we try to discover to what extent it intended to exercise its power of redefinition; here, we are closer to an intent that can be demonstrated with assurance, although we may employ

Page 336 U. S. 729

presumptions grounded in experience in doubtful cases.

But, whether Congress has or has not expressed itself, the fundamental inquiry, broadly stated, is the same: does the State action conflict with national policy? The Cooley rule and its later application, Southern Pacific Co. v. Arizona, supra, the question of congressional "occupation of the field," and the search for conflict in the very terms of state and federal statutes are but three separate particularizations of this initial principle.

We restate the familiar because respondents would have us pronounce an additional rule: that, when Congress has made specified activity unlawful, "coincidence is as ineffective as opposition," and State laws "aiding" enforcement are invalid. Respondents seem to argue that this is as fundamental as the rule of conflict with national authority, and that it rests upon wholly independent premises.

But respondents seize upon only one part of the familiar phrase in Charleston & W.C. R. Co. v. Varnville Furniture Co.,237 U. S. 597, 237 U. S. 604. We said that, when "Congress has taken the particular subject matter in hand, coincidence is as ineffective as opposition. . . ." See also Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Public Service Comm'n,250 U. S. 566, 250 U. S. 569; Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Porter,273 U. S. 341, 273 U. S. 346. Respondents' argument assumes the stated premise -- that Congress has "taken the particular subject-matter in hand," to the exclusion of state laws. The Court could not have intended to enunciate a mechanical rule, to be applied whatever the other circumstances indicating congressional intent. Neither the language nor the facts of the cases cited support an approach in such marked contrast with this Court's consistent decisional bases. The Varnville case struck down a South Carolina statute which had the effect of holding a connecting carrier liable for goods damaged in interstate

Page 336 U. S. 730

commerce, when Congress had determined that the initial carrier should bear primary responsibility; the Pennsylvania Railway case held invalid a state measure requiring a specified type of rear platform different from the detailed specifications of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and, in the Porter case, the Court thought Congress intended to leave the terms of a uniform bill of lading to the ICC, and that state laws on the subject were meant to be ineffective. See Cloverleaf Butter Co. v. Patterson,315 U. S. 148, 315 U. S. 157-159.

The "coincidence" rationale is only an application of the first principle of conflict with national policy. The phrase itself simply states that familiar rule. If State laws on commerce are identical with those of Congress, the Court may find congressional motive to exclude the States: Congress has provided certain limited penalties, "and a state law is not to be declared a help because it attempts to go farther than Congress has seen fit to go," Varnville, supra, at 237 U. S. 604 -- that is, if Congress has "occupied the field." But the fact of identity does not mean the automatic invalidity of State measures. Coincidence is only one factor in a complicated pattern of facts guiding us to congressional intent. [Footnote 7] As the Court

Page 336 U. S. 731

stated in the Pennsylvania Railway case, at 250 U. S. 569, the

"question whether Congress and its commissions acting under it have so far exercised the exclusive jurisdiction that belongs to it as to exclude the State must be answered by a judgment upon the particular case."

Statements concerning the "exclusive jurisdiction" of Congress beg the only controversial question: whether Congress intended to make its jurisdiction exclusive.

This has long been settled. Fox v. Ohio, 5 How. 410, announced uncertainly what United States v. Marigold, 9 How. 560: that

"the same act might, as to its character and tendencies, and the consequences it involved, constitute an offence against both the State and Federal governments, and might draw to its commission the penalties denounced by either, as appropriate to its character in reference to each."

9 How. at 50 U. S. 569. [Footnote 8] See Ex parte Siebold,100 U. S. 371, 100 U. S. 390; United States v. Lanza,260 U. S. 377, 260 U. S. 384. And see Union Brokerage Co. v. Jensen,322 U. S. 202, 322 U. S. 208.

Asbell v. Kansas,209 U. S. 251, is a further illustration. A Kansas statute provided criminal penalties for the importation of cattle from any point south of the State, except for immediate slaughter, without approval of the proper State officials or the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States. The congressional Act, 32 Stat. 791, 792, allowed cattle to be transported into a state if inspected and passed by an inspector of the United States Bureau of Animal Industry. Violation of the federal act brought criminal sanctions. Yet we affirmed a conviction under the State law. We said that,

"if the state law conflicts with [federal law], the state law must yield. But the law of Kansas now before us recognizes the supremacy of the national law, and conforms to it. "

Page 336 U. S. 732

209 U.S. at 209 U. S. 258. And see the similar problem and similar answer by Brandeis, J., for the Court in Dickson v. Uhlmann Grain Co.,288 U. S. 188.

To limit our inquiry to respondents' single standard would restrict us to unreality. For Congress is often explicit when it wishes state laws to conclude federal prosecution, to avoid the double punishment possible in a federal system. See, for example, 18 U.S.C. § 659, defining the crime of stealing from an interstate carrier; 18 U.S.C. § 660, misapplication of funds by an officer or employee of a carrier engaged in commerce. And when state enforcement mechanisms so helpful to federal officials are to be excluded, Congress may say so, as in the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C.(Supp.), § 160(a). That Congress has specifically saved state laws in some instances, see, e.g., the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. § 77r, indicates no general policy save clarity.

Respondents' automatic "coincidence means invalidity" theory, applied in an area as imbued with the state's interest as is this one, see infra, would lead us to the conclusion that a state may not make a dealer in perishable agricultural commodities respect its laws on the fraudulent nonpayment of an obligation if that fraud occurred after an interstate shipment, 7 U.S.C. § 499b(4), for Congress has not expressly saved such prosecutions. We would hold, too, that extortion or robbery from interstate commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 1951 or 18 U.S.C. § 2117 is immune from state action; that the wrecking of a bridge over an interstate railroad is an "exclusively federal" offense, 18 U.S.C. § 1992; that the transmittal of a ransom note in interstate commerce cannot be punished by local authorities, 18 U.S.C. § 875. And see 18 U.S.C. §§ 331, 472, 479. In short, we would be setting aside great numbers of state statutes to satisfy a congressional purpose which would be only the product of this Court's

Page 336 U. S. 733

imagination. We cannot agree that each of the problems under the statutes cited may not be resolved by examination of the whole case.

The question is whether Congress intended to override State laws identical with its own when it, through the Interstate Commerce Commission, regulated share-expense passenger automobile transportation, or whether it intended to let State laws stand. While the statute says nothing expressly on this point and we are aided by no legislative history directly in point, [Footnote 9] we know that normally congressional purpose to displace local laws must be clearly manifested. H. P. Welch Co. v. New Hampshire,306 U. S. 79, and cases cited; Maurer v. Hamilton,309 U. S. 598, 309 U. S. 614; Kelly v. Washington ex rel. Foss Co.,302 U. S. 1, 302 U. S. 11, 302 U. S. 14; Mintz v. Baldwin,289 U. S. 346. Or if the claim is conflict in terms, it "must be clear that the federal provisions are inconsistent with those of the state to justify the thwarting of state regulation." Cloverleaf Butter Co. v. Patterson, supra,315 U. S. 156. See also Hines v. Davidowitz,312 U. S. 52, at 312 U. S. 67.

General propositions derived from the whole sweep of the Commerce Clause are often helpful, and we think those just stated are persuasive indications of congressional intent in the case now before us. But the

Page 336 U. S. 734

quite separate Commerce Clause degree questions can be resolved only by careful scrutiny of the particular activity regulated. The Interstate Commerce Commission found these dangers present in the business of share-expense passenger transportation: abandonment of passengers before reaching the promised destination; personal injuries sustained by passengers because of irresponsible drivers, with attendant delay and expense; delays caused by arrest and detention of drivers for violations of traffic laws; crowded conditions in automobiles by reason of an excessive number of passengers and their baggage, and

"annoyance, anxiety, or fright caused by reckless and improper driving by the automobile operators, by the bad mechanical condition of the vehicles used, by the fatigue of drivers operating the automobiles for long periods without adequate rest, or by the improper conduct of the driver or other passengers."

Evidence of these evils led the ICC to remove the exemption which had covered these respondents. Ex parte No. MC-35, 33 M.C.C. 69, 73, 74. See also Report of Federal Coordinator of Transportation on the Regulation of Transportation Agencies other than Railroads and on Proposed Changes in Railroad Regulation (Washington, 1934), Sen.Doc. 152, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., p. 226, mentioning the financial irresponsibility of these carriers. And see California v. Thompson,313 U. S. 109.

Of course, we no longer limit the states to their "traditional" police powers in considering a statute's validity under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co.,335 U. S. 525. But the tradition of "usual police powers" is still of aid in determining congressional intent to exclude State action on interstate commerce, at least when Congress has legislated. Many of the evils discussed by the ICC, above, are of the oldest within the ambit of the police power: protection against fraud and physical harm to a

Page 336 U. S. 735

State's residents. And, consistent with the many cases giving the State's interest in its own highways more weight than the national interest against "burdening" commerce, [Footnote 10] we have held that the highway regulation involved in this case is allowable State action before Congress acted. California v. Thompson, supra. Removal of the Motor Carrier Act's exemption since the Thompson case does not change our conclusion.

The case would be different if there were conflict in the provisions of the federal and California statutes. But there is no conflict in terms, and no possibility of such conflict, for the state statute makes federal law its own in this particular. The case might also be different were there variegated state laws on this subject in 1941, when the ICC removed the federal exemption. We might then infer congressional purpose to displace local laws and establish a uniform rule beyond which states may not go. See Southern R. Co. v. Railroad Commission,236 U. S. 439. Whatever the result in that class of cases, it would be startling to discover congressional intention to "displace" state laws when there were no state laws to displace when Congress acted. And that is nearly the situation in the present case. When the ICC removed the federal exemption, it mentioned twelve cities, other than Los Angeles and San Francisco, in which the problem was particularly acute. [Footnote 11] Of these twelve

Page 336 U. S. 736

cities, only two were located in states which attempted regulation of the kind of transportation we are now considering. [Footnote 12] Such striking absence of state law in states where the problem was recognized as serious by the ICC clearly demonstrates a purpose to provide, rather than displace local rules -- to fill a void, rather than nationalize a single rule. And we see nothing to show that a more serious problem in the California might not properly beget a more serious penalty if the California legislature deemed it wise. ICC recognition that the problem is more acute in some states than in others may well indicate acceptance of that proposition.

It is said that ICC recognition of the difficulties facing state regulation of interstate commerce, 33 M.C.C. at 76, because of cases such as Buck v. Kuykendall, supra, is of importance here. But this case concerns only the state's mechanisms for enforcing a statute identical with that of the federal government, though rooted in different policy considerations. We cannot predicate exclusion upon the simple recognition of Constitutional difficulties not present in the cause before us. Since the

Page 336 U. S. 737

ICC order was issued after California v. Thompson, supra, one would expect the federal agency to be specific if it intended to supersede state laws. And we do not see how a previous California statute conflicting with ICC policy, cf. 1933 Cal.Stat., c. 390, § 1, p. 1012, and Frank Broker Application, 8 M.C.C. 15, can have anything to do with the only California statute we are considering -- a measure which does not conflict with ICC policy. It is difficult to believe that the ICC intended to deprive itself of effective aid from local officers experienced in the kind of enforcement necessary to combat this evil -- aid of particular importance in view of the ICC's small staff. See 61st Annual Report of the ICC (1947), p. 122; 62d Annual Report of the ICC (1948), p. 109. [Footnote 13]

This is not a hypothetical case on "normal Congressional intent." It is California's attempt to deal with a real danger to its residents. We know that coincidence, with its consequent possibility of double punishment, is an important factor to be considered. In many cases, it may be a persuasive indication of congressional intent. But we must look at the whole case. In this case, the factors indicating exclusion of state laws are of no consequence in the light of the small number of local regulations and the state's normal power to enforce safety and good faith requirements for the use of its own highways.

Page 336 U. S. 738

"The state and federal regulations here applicable have their separate spheres of operation." Union Brokerage Co. v. Jensen, supra, at 322 U. S. 208. [Footnote 14] So far as casual, occasional, or reciprocal transportation of passengers for hire is concerned, the State may punish as it has in the present case for the safety and welfare of its inhabitants; the nation may punish for the safety and welfare of interstate commerce. There is no conflict.


[Footnote 1]

Calif.Stats.1947, c. 1215, §§ 2, 4, pp. 2724, 2725, Deering's Calif.Penal Code (1947 Supp.), §§ 654.1, 654.3. The statute makes it criminal to sell transportation in a carrier which has failed to secure a permit from either the California Public Utilities Commission or the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States. Our only concern is with the correspondence of State and federal legislation.

[Footnote 2]

49 U.S.C. §§ 301, 303(b) (seenote 5infra), 49 Stat. 543 et seq. The act is limited to carriers operating in interstate commerce. 49 U.S.C. § 302(b).

[Footnote 3]

49 U.S.C. § 303(b)(9).

[Footnote 4]

When the transportation is arranged "by a third-party intermediary who engages in making such transactions for compensation or as a regular occupation or business." Ex parte No. MC-35, 33 M.C.C. 69, 81.

[Footnote 5]

The ICC order was upheld by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Drake v. United States, November 18, 1942 (3 Federal Carriers Cases 2297). We affirmed. Levin v. United States, 319 U.S. 728.

[Footnote 6]

The Appellate Department of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California. There is no further review in the State courts. Art. VI, §§ 4, 4b, Calif.Const.; People v. Reed, 13 Cal.App.2d 39, 56 P.2d 240.

[Footnote 7]

Compare Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Harris,234 U. S. 412, with Northern Pac. R. Co. v. Washington,222 U. S. 370; New York v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique,107 U. S. 59, 107 U. S. 63; Oregon-Washington R. & Nav. Co. v. Washington,270 U. S. 87, and Cloverleaf Butter Co. v. Patterson,315 U. S. 148. In these cases, we made our decision concerning congressional intent by considering all the factors we considered relevant. We did not resort to a mechanical rule.

The text also seems to supply the underlying rationale for the two cases cited in Varnville, supra, 237 U.S. at 237 U. S. 604, to support the familiar quotation on "coincidence." Southern R. Co. v. Railroad Comm'n,236 U. S. 439, and Chicago, R.I. & P. R. Co. v. Hardwick Farmers' Elevator Co.,226 U. S. 426. And see Jerome v. United States,318 U. S. 101, 318 U. S. 105.

[Footnote 8]

The Fox and Marigold cases were concerned with congressional power over forgeries, but, for the purposes of this case, the principle is the same.

[Footnote 9]

As might be expected, there was an exemption of casual operations when the statute was passed. Seenote 5supra, and text. Discussion in debate and hearings is largely descriptive. See, e.g., Hearings before Subcommittee of House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce on H.R. 5262 and H.R. 6016, 74th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 47, 97, 183, 188-191, 208, 262; Hearings before Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce on S. 1629, S. 1632, and S. 1635, 74th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 69, 70, 87, 97, 119, 186-188, 215, 390. The Committee reports are not helpful.

There is, however, an expression of deference to State action on intrastate commerce, 49 U.S.C. § 302(b), as strengthened on the floor of the Senate, 79 Cong.Rec. 5735-5737. See 79 Cong.Rec. 12197; 49 U.S.C. § 305(a).

[Footnote 10]

E.g., South Carolina State Highway Department v. Barnwell Bros.,303 U. S. 177, 625; Clark v. Poor,274 U. S. 554, 274 U. S. 557; Maurer v. Hamilton,309 U. S. 598, 309 U. S. 614; Hendrick v. Maryland,235 U. S. 610; H. P. Welch Co. v. New Hampshire,306 U. S. 79; Kelly v. Washington ex rel. Foss Co.,302 U. S. 1, 302 U. S. 10. See the distinction of Buck v. Kuykendall,267 U. S. 307, and Bush & Sons Co. v. Maloy,267 U. S. 317, in Bradley v. Public Utilities Commission,289 U. S. 92, at 289 U. S. 95. See Kauper, State Regulation of Interstate Motor Carriers, 31 Mich.L.Rev. 920, 1097.

[Footnote 11]

"The travel bureau business is quite extensive in many cities, particularly those in the western and southwestern States, notably at Kansas City, Mo., Wichita, Kans., Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and El Paso, Tex. Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif., Portland, Oreg., Seattle, Wash., and Denver, Colo. The record establishes that such operations exist at other cities, including Chicago, Ill., and New York, N.Y. At one time, there were approximately 50 bureaus in operation in Los Angeles alone. . . ."

33 M.C.C. at 71-72.

[Footnote 12]

Letters from motor carrier commissions in western and southwestern States show that, in 1941, there was no regulation, or attempt at regulation, covering Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, El Paso, Portland, or Seattle. Only in Wichita and Denver was regulation attempted, and its extent in Wichita is not at all clear.

In 1941, there was likewise no regulation or attempt at regulation of any kind in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, or Utah, although Wyoming attempted some measure of control Idaho's only requirement was a registration fee.

[Footnote 13]

Respondents ignore practical differences when they rely upon the Southern R. Co. case, supra, which invalidated state regulation of grab-irons on railroad cars moving in interstate commerce. The individual state's interest in the manner its residents use its own highways can hardly be compared with the time-honored ICC control over the nation's traditional avenues of interstate transportation, the railroads. A case closer to the one before us is Asbell v. Kansas, supra. To recognize that the question is one of degree does not resolve the sharp differences in extreme revealed by the Southern R. Co. case and the one now before us.

[Footnote 14]

"The Federal Government has dealt with the manner in which customhouse brokerage is carried on. Minnesota, however, is legitimately concerned with safeguarding the interests of its own people. . . ."



My brother BURTON has set forth in convincing detail how the regulation of "travel bureaus" for arranging transportation of passengers by motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce was taken over by federal authority, after experience had disclosed the inadequacy of state regulation. What I have to say only serves to emphasize my agreement with his conclusion.

In California v. Thompson,313 U. S. 109, this Court recognized that positive intervention of Congress was required to displace the reserve power of the State to promote safety and honesty in the business of arranging for motor carrier transportation even beyond state lines. As to such business, the power of Congress to regulate commerce "among the several States" was an excluding, not an exclusive, power -- State action was not barred by the Commerce Clause, but only by appropriate congressional action. State action is displaced only to the extent that Congress chooses to displace it. One would suppose that, when Congress has proscribed defined conduct and attached specific consequences to violations of such outlawry,

Page 336 U. S. 739

the States were no longer free to impose additional or different consequences by making the same misconduct also a state offense. And that is this case.

For the first time in the hundred and twenty-five years since the problem of determining when State regulation has been displaced by federal enactment came before this Court, Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, the Court today decides that the States can impose an additional punishment for a federal offense unless Congress in so many words forbids the States to do it. When Congress deals with a specific evil in a specific way, subject to specified sanctions, it is not reasonable to require Congress to add, "and hereafter the States may not also punish for this very offense," to preclude the States from outlawing the same specific evil under different sanctions. * To do so would impute to Congress the purpose of imposing upon a nationwide rule the crazy-quilt of diversity -- actual or potential -- in State legislation, when the federal policy was adopted by Congress precisely because it concluded that the manner in which the States, under their permissive power, dealt with the evil was unsatisfactory.

Page 336 U. S. 740

Such an inference is a strained and strange way of interpreting the mind of Congress. It also disregards an important aspect of civil liberties, namely, avoidance of double punishment for the same act even though such double punishment may be constitutionally permissible. See Jerome v. United States,318 U. S. 101, 318 U. S. 105.

Of course, the same physical act may offend a State policy and another policy of the United States. Assaulting a United States marshal would offend a State's policy against street brawls, but it may also be an obstruction to the administration of federal law. Scores of such instances, inevitable in a federal government, will readily suggest themselves. That was the kind of a situation presented by United States v. Marigold, 9 How. 560. Passing counterfeit currency may, in one aspect, be "a private cheat practiced by one citizen of Ohio upon another," and therefore invoke a State's concern in "protecting her citizens against frauds," 9 How. at 50 U. S. 568-569, but the same passing becomes of vital concern to the Federal Government because it tends to debase the currency. Such a situation is quite different from this case. It merits repetition to say that we are now reversing a State court for holding that the very same conduct for the disobedience of which federal regulation imposes a maximum fine of one hundred dollars for the first offense cannot be prosecuted in a State court under a State law imposing a larger fine and, perchance, a prison sentence.

The talk about "conflict" as a basis for displacing State by Federal enactment is relevant only in situations where Congress has chosen to "circumscribe its regulation and occupy only a limited field," while State regulation is "outside that limited field," and yet an inference of negation of State action is sought to be drawn. See Kelly v. Washington,302 U. S. 1, 302 U. S. 10. Even in each circumstances, this Court has drawn inferences of implied exclusion of

Page 336 U. S. 741

State action, although in no sense of the word would there have been physical clash between State and Federal regulation so as to preclude concurrence of vitality for both regulations. See, e.g., Cloverleaf Butter Co. v. Patterson,315 U. S. 148; Hill v. Florida,325 U. S. 538. In this case, we have the very conduct theretofore left to State regulation taken over by Federal regulation, and yet the Court superimposes upon the displacing Federal regulation the State regulation which was consciously displaced. That a Court which, only on April 4, 1949, decided H. P. Hood & Sons v. Du Mond,336 U. S. 525, as it did, should now decide this case as it does presents indeed a problem for reconciliation.

* The variety of sanctions now enforceable is reflected in the following statutes:

United States: fine of not more than $100 for the first offense and not more than $500 for any subsequent offense. 49 Stat. 564, 49 U.S.C. § 322(a).

California: fine of not over $250 or imprisonment for not over 90 days or both, and on the second conviction, imprisonment for not less than 30 days or more than 180 days. For subsequent convictions, imprisonment for no less than 90 days and not more than one year. Cal.Pen.Code § 654.3 (1947 Supp.).

Washington: fine of not over $250 or not over 90 days in jail; apparently additional offenses do not increase the punishment. Wash.Rev.Stat.Ann. § 2266 (1940), §§ 6397-19, 6397-20, (1941 Supp.).

Wyoming: fine of not less than $25, nor more than $100, or imprisonment for not more than six months or both. Wyoming Comp.Stat. §§ 60-1309, 60-1362 (1945). The applicability of these sections to a situation of the present type is not free from doubt.


The question presented is whether § 654.1 of the Penal Code of California [Footnote 2/1] is invalid as applied in this case to interstate commerce by the Municipal Court of Los Angeles. The respondents, Zook and Craig, were convicted of making a sale, in 1948, in California, of interstate motor transportation to Texas, on an individual fare basis, over the public highways of California, under conditions whereby the transportation was to be supplied by a carrier having no certificate of convenience and necessity or other permit from the Public Utilities Commission of California, or from the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States. Such a sale was adjudged contrary to the terms of § 654.1, but the Appellate Department of the Superior Court of California held that that Section was invalid as thus applied to interstate commerce in the face of the Interstate Commerce Act of the United States and of orders issued under the authority

Page 336 U. S. 742

of that Act making precisely such a sale a federal offense. We agree with the court below that California could not, without the consent of Congress, lawfully thus share the exclusive jurisdiction being exercised by Congress to regulate commerce among the states, and we find here no such consent. On the other hand, we do find here, under all the circumstances, that Congress has exercised its power of regulation of this precise form of interstate commerce to the exclusion of the states and in conflict with the regulation attempted here by the California.

From 1933 until 1947, the California legislation on this subject expressly distinguished between intrastate and interstate transportation. It provided that the state legislation was to be applicable to interstate motor carriers only "until such time as Congress of the United States shall act, . . . " [Footnote 2/2] or in "the absence of action on the part of Congress or the Interstate Commerce Commission. . . ." [Footnote 2/3] California thus recognized not only the possibility, but the propriety of federal regulation of this form of commerce to the extent of its interstate operations. In 1935 [Footnote 2/4] and in 1940, [Footnote 2/5] Congress, on its part, expressly recognized a federal responsibility for such regulation. It assumed jurisdiction over the qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees and over safety of operations and standards of equipment. As to other regulations, Congress temporarily and conditionally exempted this kind of transportation from the Interstate

Page 336 U. S. 743

Commerce Act. In doing so, however, it authorized the Interstate Commerce Commission to determine from time to time to what extent, if any, the exemption should be removed. In 1942, after a thorough study, that Commission largely removed the exemption. [Footnote 2/6] Thus, by express authority of Congress, the regulation of the interstate operations of this type of transportation was vested in the Interstate Commerce Commission after a determination by that Commission that such an application of federal law was necessary to carry out the policy of Congress.

Section 654.1, which was added to the Penal Code of California in 1947, contained no provision distinguishing between intrastate and interstate commerce in this field. It mentioned only "transportation . . . over the public highways of the California. . . ." The state court below nevertheless interpreted the Section as seeking to include interstate, as well as intrastate, transportation, and then held that it was invalid insofar as it applied to interstate transportation. [Footnote 2/7] We accept the state court's

Page 336 U. S. 744

interpretation, and the question before us is only the validity of the statute as applied to interstate transportation. [Footnote 2/8] If it were not for the interpretation given to the California statute by the court below, the issue might be disposed of by limiting that statute, like its predecessor, to intrastate transportation.

Page 336 U. S. 745

The complaint is printed in the margin. [Footnote 2/9] Its sufficiency is the precise issue presented to us on the demurrer which the court below has ordered sustained. In that court, the respondents successfully asserted the invalidity of the state statute in the face of the Interstate Commerce Act applicable to the same offense. The petitioner concedes that the two laws sought to forbid and punish the same acts, but contends that this was a permissible duplication.

Page 336 U. S. 746

Agreeing that the two statutes forbid the same acts, our first duty is to see how far this identity of legislative effect extends. Our remaining duty then is to determine whether the state law is valid in the face of the federal law on the same subject.

The substantial identity between the statutes ends with their definitions of the offense. Only the Federal Act requires a broker's license, and the general exemptions from the respective Acts are in great conflict. [Footnote 2/10] The penalties are substantially different. [Footnote 2/11] For example,

Page 336 U. S. 747

in the instant case, each respondent was fined $150 more under the state law than would have been possible under the federal law for what apparently was a first offense under each Act. Under the state law, the court also had an option to impose a jail sentence, whereas no such option would have been available to it under the federal law. The federal law also provided for a fine up to $500 for each offense after the first. Under the state law, convictions after the first were punishable solely by imprisonment. Accordingly, while the offense here charged was one which violated both the state and federal statutes, there was a substantial conflict between the sanctions available for the enforcement of those statutes. This conflict is by no means conclusive of this case, but it is entitled to consideration as indicating the absence, rather than the presence, of an implied consent by the United States to the intrusion of the state law into the exclusive jurisdiction made available to the United States by the Federal Constitution. Prosecution and punishment under both the state and federal statutes would, in this instance, often result in greater punishment than the maximum permitted by the federal law. We cannot readily assume congressional consent to state legislation

Page 336 U. S. 748

that makes an expressly stated congressional "maximum" penalty no longer a maximum penalty.

The issue requires answers to two questions: I. Did the California Code invade the exclusive jurisdiction which Congress was exercising through its Interstate Commerce Act? II. If so, was the conviction under the California Code invalid on the ground that Congress had taken exclusive jurisdiction over that offense and had not consented to share its jurisdiction with California as here proposed? For the reasons to be stated, we believe the answer to each of those questions should be yes.


The California Code invaded the exclusive jurisdiction which Congress was exercising through its Interstate Commerce Act.

The petitioner's concession that the respondents' acts simultaneously violated the terms of both statutes sharply distinguishes the issue here from those often presented in this general field of controversy. (1) We do not have here the much litigated issue as to the validity of state statutes prohibiting or otherwise regulating acts committed in the course of interstate commerce, but in a field of that commerce where Congress has taken no action. In the instant case, Congress has taken jurisdiction by statute not only in this general field, but over the precise type of interstate motor carrier transportation of passengers that is the subject of the state legislation and of the complaint in this case. (2) Similarly, we do not have here a case where a state has applied its prohibitory or otherwise regulatory measures to some intrastate transaction taking place before or after, and separable from, the transactions in interstate commerce over which the Federal Government has taken jurisdiction. (3) We

Page 336 U. S. 749

do not have here an attempt by a state to supplement federal control over some activity related to, but not specifically covered by, the federal legislation. (4) Also, we do not have here a case where Congress has expressly consented to share with the states the plenary and supreme authority of Congress to take jurisdiction over the regulation of the interstate commerce in question. (5) On the other hand, we do have here the significant situation of a state attempting, by a new state law, to reach and punish, additionally, a transaction in interstate commerce in the face of the active exercise of substantially conflicting federal jurisdiction over the same transaction and in the absence of express congressional consent to such attempted duplication of jurisdiction. This is in contrast to an attempt by a state to help enforce, as such, an already existing federal statute covering the offense.

We start not merely with the inherent right of a state to exercise its police power over acts within its jurisdiction. We start also with the constitutional provisions by which the supreme legislative power of the respective states has been delegated to Congress to regulate interstate commerce. [Footnote 2/12]

Once Congress has lawfully exercised its legislative supremacy in one of its allotted fields and has not accompanied that exercise with an indication of its consent to share it with the states, the burden of overcoming the supremacy of the federal law in that field is upon any state seeking to do so.

Page 336 U. S. 750

An early statement of the general principle involved was made by Mr. Justice Story in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Pet. 539, 41 U. S. 617-618. [Footnote 2/13] That statement was approved and enlarged upon by Mr. Justice J. R. Lamar in Southern R. Co. v. Railroad Commission of Indiana,236 U. S. 439, in a case arising under the Interstate Commerce Act in which, on reasoning applicable in the instant case, an Indiana statute was held invalid because it required handholds on the sides or ends of railroad cars operating in interstate commerce in Indiana in substantial duplication of the Federal Safety Appliance Act, requiring handholds on both the sides and ends of such cars. There, Mr. Justice Lamar said:

"But the principle that the offender may, for one act, be prosecuted in two jurisdictions, has no application where one of the governments has exclusive

Page 336 U. S. 751

jurisdiction of the subject matter, and therefore the exclusive power to punish. Such is the case here, where Congress, in the exercise of its power to regulate interstate commerce, has legislated as to the appliances with which certain instrumentalities of that commerce must be furnished in order to secure the safety of employees. Until Congress entered that field, the states could legislate as to equipment in such manner as to incidentally affect, without burdening, interstate commerce. But Congress could pass the safety appliance act only because of the fact that the equipment of cars moving on interstate roads was a regulation of interstate commerce. Under the Constitution the nature of that power is such that, when exercised, it is exclusive, and ipso facto supersedes existing state legislation on the same subject. Congress, of course, could have 'circumscribed its regulations' so as to occupy a limited field. Savage v. Jones,225 U. S. 501, 225 U. S. 533; Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Georgia,234 U. S. 280, 234 U. S. 293. But, so far as it did legislate, the exclusive effect of the safety appliance act did not relate merely to details of the statute and the penalties it imposed, but extended to the whole subject of equipping cars with appliances intended for the protection of employees. The states thereafter could not legislate so as to require greater or less or different equipment; nor could they punish by imposing greater or less or different penalties. . . ."

"* * * *"

"The test, however, is not whether the state legislation is in conflict with the details of the Federal law or supplements it, but whether the state had any jurisdiction of a subject over which Congress had exerted its exclusive control."

(Emphasis added.) Id. at 236 U. S. 446, 236 U. S. 448.

Page 336 U. S. 752

Mr. Justice Holmes said, in Charleston & W. Car. R. Co. v. Varnville Furniture Co.,237 U. S. 597, 237 U. S. 604:

"When Congress has taken the particular subject matter in hand, coincidence is as ineffective as opposition, and a state law is not to be declared a help because it attempts to go farther than Congress has seen fit to go."

Mr. Justice Butler reemphasized this in sweeping terms in Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Porter,273 U. S. 341, 273 U. S. 346, by concluding the opinion of the Court as follows:

"Its [Congress'] power to regulate such [interstate] commerce and all its instrumentalities is supreme, and, as that power has been exerted, state laws have no application. They cannot be applied in coincidence with, as complementary to or as in opposition to, federal enactments which disclose the intention of Congress to enter a field of regulation that is within its jurisdiction."

(Emphasis added.) See also Erie R. Co. v. New York,233 U. S. 671, 233 U. S. 683; Second Employers' Liability Cases,223 U. S. 1, 223 U. S. 55.

Related to this exclusive jurisdiction of Congress, established by Article VI of the Constitution, is the general policy against subjecting anyone to punishment more than once for the commission of a single act. Unless care is taken to prevent this, such double punishment may result from the overlapping of the federal and state jurisdictions. However, its unfairness to the individual, as well as its cumbersomeness for enforcement purposes, suggests that it should not be read into legislation in the absence of clear language demonstrating a purpose to permit it. In a case which related to the interpretation of a federal statute that might duplicate or build upon a state law, this Court said:

". . . it should be noted that the double jeopardy provision of the Fifth Amendment does not stand as a bar to federal prosecution though a state conviction

Page 336 U. S. 753

based on the same acts has already been obtained. . . . That consideration gives additional weight to the view that, where Congress is creating offenses which duplicate or build upon state law, courts should be reluctant to expand the defined offenses beyond the clear requirements of the terms of the statute."

Jerome v. United States,318 U. S. 101, 318 U. S. 105.

So here we should be reluctant to read into a federal statute congressional consent to state legislation which authorized prosecution and punishment by the State in addition to federal prosecution and punishment.

Where there is legislative intent to share the exclusiveness of the congressional jurisdiction, appropriate language can make that intent clear. An outstanding example of such authorization is in the Eighteenth Amendment, now repealed. It was there provided that "The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." (U.S.Const.) More recently, clear language was used by Congress to insure the validity of state cooperation in the "Migratory Bird Conservation Act," approved February 18, 1929:

"SEC. 17. That when any State shall, by suitable legislation, make provision adequately to enforce the provisions of this Act and all regulations promulgated thereunder, the Secretary of Agriculture may so certify, and then and thereafter said State may cooperate with the Secretary of Agriculture in the enforcement of this Act and the regulations thereunder."

45 Stat. 1225, 16 U.S.C. § 715p.

Still closer to the present situation is the language used by the Congress that passed the Motor Carrier Act, 1935. In "The Whaling Treaty Act," it said:

"SEC. 12. That nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent the several States and Territories

Page 336 U. S. 754

from making or enforcing laws or regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of said Convention [for the regulation of whaling] or of this Act, or from making or enforcing laws or regulations which shall give further protection to whales. . . ."

49 Stat. 1248, 16 U.S.C. § 912. [Footnote 2/14]

The Motor Carrier Act, 1935, did not overlook the subject of exclusive state and federal jurisdiction over the respective fields of intrastate and interstate commerce touched by the Act. It did not, however, approve joint and conflicting control by both at the same time. It expressly vested in the Interstate Commerce Commission

Page 336 U. S. 755

the regulation of the transportation of passengers by motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce. With equal clarity, it expressly provided that Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act should not affect the powers of taxation of the several states. It thus dealt with and preserved to the states their full powers to tax without added restriction because of the Motor Carrier Act's relation to interstate commerce. The state powers of taxation were thus distinguished from those of regulation because the power of regulation of interstate commerce was vested expressly in the Interstate Commerce Commission. Also, in relation to the regulation of intrastate commerce, Congress provided that nothing in Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act

"shall be construed . . . to authorize a motor carrier to do an intrastate business on the highways of any State, or to interfere with the exclusive exercise by each the power of regulation of intrastate commerce by motor carriers on the highways thereof."

(Emphasis added.) § 202(c), 49 Stat. 543, later designated § 202(b), 54 Stat. 920, 49 U.S.C. § 302(b). For full text of original § 202(b) and (c), later designated § 202(a) and (b), see336 U. S. infra.

Congress thus dealt directly with the problem of state and federal regulation of motor carrier transportation either interstate or intrastate in character. Congress indicated no consent to share with others its exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of interstate commerce. If

Page 336 U. S. 756

it had intended to do so, that would have been the place to express such an intent. The language used reflected not merely an absence of congressional consent to the sharing of its jurisdiction over any form of interstate commerce. On the contrary, especially when read with § 203(b)(9), it evidenced a conscious congressional dissent from any such sharing of its jurisdiction over this form of interstate commerce described in this legislation. Section 203(b)(9) stated a positive insistence upon federal jurisdiction in the precise field which concerns us here. It provided that the federal jurisdiction become effective whenever and to the extent that the Interstate Commerce Commission found the necessity for it. In this narrow field, Congress thus expressly left temporarily on trial the substantially exclusive state regulation of interstate commerce which was already in effect. This express temporary conditional exemption created a special situation in which the consent of Congress to state regulation was to be continued or cut off by the Interstate Commerce Commission. It did not suggest any sharing or duplication of control by the Commission and the state. This temporary survival of state control was expressly and unequivocally terminated by the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1942. That order called for a positive discontinuance of state control, coupled with a positive vesting of jurisdiction in the Interstate Commerce Commission over this particular type of interstate commerce. The procedure thus taken to substitute federal for state regulation of interstate commerce was the very opposite of a procedure permissive of joint or duplicating federal and state control. It is difficult to conceive of a more deliberate and obvious substitution of one for the other. The area available for such substitution of federal for state control was clearly defined and set aside in § 203(b)(9) and then put into effect by

Page 336 U. S. 757

order of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Ex parte No. 35, 33 M.C.C. 69, 49 C.F.R. Cum.Supp. § 210.1. For an example of a substitution of exclusive federal regulation for exclusive state regulation of certain interstate commerce activities in the warehousing field, see Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp.,331 U. S. 218.

This brings us to the final question of statutory interpretation. Did Congress impliedly consent to this attempted sharing of its established jurisdiction within the narrow limits of § 203(b)(9)?


The conviction under the California Code was invalid because Congress had taken exclusive jurisdiction over that offense, and had not consented to share its jurisdiction with California.

It is a contradiction in terms to say that a state, without the consent of Congress, may duplicate or share in the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress. If the jurisdiction of Congress has become exclusive, the state's jurisdiction must, by hypothesis, be derived thereafter from Congress or cease to exist. In this case, there was no express consent by Congress to share with the states the federally protected exclusive jurisdiction over this type of transaction in interstate commerce. The question remains, however, whether, under all the circumstances, Congress shall be held to have impliedly consented to share its exclusive jurisdiction with California. The text of the legislation and the course of events which led the Federal Government to take jurisdiction not only disclose an absence of any basis for a claim that Congress impliedly consented to the California legislation, but present overwhelming evidence of a deliberate, careful and unconditional assumption by Congress of federal jurisdiction,

Page 336 U. S. 758

consciously exclusive of the inadequate state regulation theretofore found to exist. See the reference, supra, to original § 202(b) and (c) of the Act, dealing with the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission and of the states. For full text, see § 202(a) and (b) in Appendix B(2), infra. In addition, we shall now consider in detail the action taken under the informed guidance of the Interstate Commerce Commission in accordance with the express terms of § 203(b).

The precise fundamental issue is not the identity, similarity, diversity, or even repugnance, of the two statutes. The fundamental issue is that of the presence or absence of congressional consent to the sharing of its exclusive jurisdiction. The degree of immediate or potential conflict between the statutes has a material relation to the issue of congressional consent. Clear conflict between the statutes would be practically conclusive against the state. The less the conflict, the less obvious is the basis for the objection of Congress to sharing its jurisdiction with the state. However, even a complete absence of conflict, resulting in a mere duplication of offenses, would not remove all basis for objection, and would not necessarily establish the required congressional consent. For example, the inherent objectionability of the double punishment of an offender for a single act always argues against its implied authorization. Similarly, the difficulties inherent in diverse legislative and enforcement policies always argue against the introduction of new state offenses, as distinguished from state cooperation in prosecuting existing federal offenses. Here, there was substantial potential conflict between the prescribed state penalties and the federal penalties, although the prohibited acts were the same. Likewise, there was a substantial difference between the two statutes in the exceptions to their application and in such related provisions

Page 336 U. S. 759

as those for the licensing of the travel bureaus, as distinguished from the carriers. Furthermore, § 203(b) expressly left it to the Interstate Commerce Commission to determine the extent, if any, to which the federal jurisdiction should be applied.

In the instant case, the most impressive material, emphasizing the unwillingness of Congress to share its exclusive control with a control through state legislation, is found in the legislative, administrative, and judicial proceedings which led to the taking of complete jurisdiction by Congress. When federal jurisdiction was thus taken, in 1942, it was clear to Congress that there existed highly unsatisfactory state regulation of the interstate transactions in question. There is no evidence of a subsequent change in the attitude of Congress. The course of events tells the story. It suggests no consent by Congress to a duplication of federal and state control. On the other hand, it demonstrates the existence of ample reasons for taking and retaining exclusive federal jurisdiction over this kind of interstate transportation. It is an example of the effective integration of our federal and state jurisdictions when each is given exclusive control over designated activities, rather than simultaneous, dual, and conflicting control over the same activities.

1. June 5, 1931. -- A California statute was approved defining motor carrier transportation agents (comparable to travel bureaus arranging "share the expense" trips), and providing for the State's regulation, supervision and licensing of such agents. This Act referred expressly to transportation between points within California and to transportation to the border of that State when one of the points to be reached was outside the State. It expressly permitted these state-licensed transportation agencies to arrange for motor transportation by a motor carrier not holding a valid certificate of public convenience

Page 336 U. S. 760

and necessity issued by the Railroad Commission of California. In substance, the Act thus recognized and licensed travel bureaus arranging for "share the expense" interstate, as well as intrastate, motor trips by unlicensed carriers. 1931 Cal.Stat., c. 638, § 1, p. 1362 et seq.

2. May 15, 1933. -- Another California statute repealed the Act of June 5, 1931. The new statute declared it to be the policy of California to regulate and control motor carrier transportation agents acting as

"intermediaries between the public and those motor carriers of passengers operating, as common carriers or otherwise, over the public highways of the State, for compensation, that are not required by law to obtain, or that have not obtained, a certificate from the Railroad Commission of the California. . . ."

1933 Cal.Stat., c. 390, § 1, p. 1012. This statute, like that of 1931, recognized and prescribed licenses for the travel bureaus dealing in "share the expense" interstate, as well as intrastate, motor trips by unlicensed carriers. This statute and this declaration remained in effect until 1947. It was during this same time that the Interstate Commerce Commission, after investigation, declared that it found that such operations, at least as applied to interstate commerce, were contrary to public policy. The Commission's extended investigation resulted, in 1942, in the deliberate application of the Interstate Commerce Act to these interstate operations under express authority of Congress. The federal law thereupon expressly prohibited such transportation by unlicensed carriers, in interstate commerce, and also prohibited travel bureaus or brokers from selling or arranging such unlicensed trips in interstate commerce. The conflict in policy thus became clear at least by 1942.

The relation of the 1933 California Act to interstate commerce and its conflict with the federal policy stated by the Interstate Commerce Commission is emphasized

Page 336 U. S. 761

by the foregoing declaration of state policy which remained in the State Act from 1933 until 1941:

"until such time as Congress of the United States shall act, the public welfare requires such regulation and control of such intermediaries between the public and interstate motor carriers, as well as between the public and intrastate motor carriers."

(Emphasis added.) Id. at p. 1012.

The California Act also included, until 1941, the following: "The provision of this act shall apply regardless of whether such transportation so sold, or offered to be sold, is interstate or intrastate." Id. at p. 1013. In general, the Act amplified the plan of the 1931 Act. It required the bonding and licensing of motor carrier transportation agents (or travel bureaus) arranging for unlicensed interstate, as well as intrastate, motor carrier transportation. Both State Acts contained a section providing explicitly for the separability of any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase which might be held unconstitutional.

3. August 9, 1935. -- Following an extended survey of the rapidly increasing volume of interstate motor transportation, the Motor Carrier Act, 1935, was enacted by Congress as Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act. For the purposes of this case, the most important feature of this Act was its provision for the partial and conditional exemption from its operation of the kind of motor carrier transportation here involved. Section 203(b)(9) excluded from its operation, except for safety purposes,

"the casual, occasional, or reciprocal transportation of passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce for compensation by any person not engaged in transportation by motor vehicle as a regular occupation or business."

49 Stat. 546. This exclusion of casual and occasional motor carriers was only a conditional exemption, expressive of federal concern over the apparent inadequacy of the state control over casual and occasional

Page 336 U. S. 762

transportation involving interstate trips. The condition applied to the exclusion was --

"(b) Nothing in this part (Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act), . . . shall be construed to include . . . [clauses (1) to (7), incl.]; nor, unless and to the extent that the (Interstate Commerce) Commission shall from time to time find that such application is necessary to carry out the policy of Congress enunciated in section 202, [Footnote 2/15] shall the provisions of this part, except the provisions of section 204 relative to qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees and safety of operation or standards of equipment apply to: (8). . . or (9) . . . [casual, occasional or reciprocal transportation, as quoted above]."

(Emphasis added.) 49 Stat. 545-546.

The close relation between the Commission, the policy of Congress enunciated in the Act, and the federal control over the casual and occasional motor carrier transportation of passengers has been emphasized thus from the inception of the Motor Carrier Act, 1935, to the present.

This provision conditionally exempted from federal control not only the casual and occasional transportation service itself but, by rendering such transportation not "subject to" Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act, it also conditionally exempted, from the federal brokerage license requirements, the travel bureaus which sold or arranged for such casual and occasional unlicensed and unregulated interstate transportation. [Footnote 2/16]

4. June 14, 1938. -- Frank Broker Application, 8 M.C.C. 15. Division 5 of the Interstate Commerce Commission made an important ruling on this application. February 11, 1936, the applicant, doing business as

Page 336 U. S. 763

Frank's Travel Bureau, of Dallas, Texas, filed an application under § 211 of the Motor Carrier Act, 1935, for a broker's license for the purpose of arranging motor transportation of persons in interstate commerce. For five years, the applicant had operated a "travel bureau" in Dallas, Texas. The nature of his business was to bring together persons desiring to travel from Dallas to any point as far west as Los Angeles, California, or as far east as New York, New York. The applicant also sold tickets, on a commission for certain competing licensed motor carriers. The Commission held that it was necessary for the applicant to obtain a broker's license under the Federal Act in order to continue to sell tickets for the licensed carriers. The rest of the applicant's interstate business, however, was that of a typical travel bureau, arranging for transportation by unlicensed carriers. The Commission's opinion discussed this activity at length and reached a conclusion that throws light on the future policy of the Commission and on the future course of the federal and state legislation. It demonstrates that the Commission, when taking its stand against this type of interstate transportation, did so, at least in California, in the face of a contrary state policy which then favored the continuance, rather than the prohibition, of such operations. The Commission finally issued the broker's license, but only upon the express condition that the applicant would discontinue his travel bureau operations in arranging for the above-described unlicensed interstate transportation which the Commission found to be not in the public interest. It said (pp. 19-20):

"The record convinces us that applicant's method of doing that portion of his business, namely, the bringing together of prospective passengers and private individuals, not motor carriers, in order that they may enter into an arrangement whereby the passenger for compensation is transported in interstate

Page 336 U. S. 764

or foreign commerce by the private individual, is not in the public interest. Applicant's limited knowledge of the passenger and owner-driver, and his inability to secure authoritative information with respect to each, of necessity makes it impossible for him to safeguard the rights of either. As a result of this practice, an unscrupulous passenger or owner-driver is given an opportunity to defraud honest citizens. Under section 204(a)(4) of the act, we are authorized, among other things, to establish reasonable requirements with respect to the practices of a broker. We are of the opinion that it is reasonable to require applicant to discontinue his practice of securing private individuals not engaged in business as carriers, to transport passengers for compensation in interstate or foreign commerce, and the license granted herein will be subject to this condition and limitation."

"We find that applicant is fit, willing, and able to perform the brokerage service proposed and to conform to the provisions of the act and our requirements, rules, and regulations thereunder; that the proposed service, subject to the condition and limitation stated in the next preceding paragraph, is consistent with the public interest and the policy declared in section 202(a) [Footnote 2/17] of the act, and that a brokerage license should be issued to him."

(Emphasis added.)

5. February 6, 1939. -- Michaux Broker Application, 11 M.C.C. 317. Division 5 of the Interstate Commerce Commission denied this application, filed in June, 1936, for a broker's license under the Federal Act. The applicant sought to carry on an interstate travel bureau operation in Chicago. The Commission found that, if the

Page 336 U. S. 765

operation were strictly limited to arrangements for interstate transportation by casual or occasional carriers, "the transportation would not be subject to the act." Id. at p. 318. The applicant, accordingly, would not require a broker's license for that activity. The Commission, however, said (p. 318):

"The extent of applicant's past operations gives rise to doubt that such a volume of business could be achieved without the employment of some persons regularly engaged in transportation of passengers by motor vehicle as an occupation."

He disclaimed intention to engage in such operations in the future. The Commission thereupon denied his request for a broker's license for those operations because no such license was required for them. The Commission warned him of the penalties for unlawful operations, and denied his application on the ground that he had

"not shown that his operation as broker will be consistent with the public interest or with the policy declared in section 202(a) [Footnote 2/18] of the act. . . ."

(P. 318.) His operations as thus described and condemned were of a type comparable to those previously condemned by the Commission in its decision on the Frank Broker Application, supra, but approved in California's statutory declaration of a contrary policy then in effect.

6. May 1, 1940, and May 17, 1940. [Footnote 2/19] -- The Interstate Commerce Commission entered upon its important investigations known, respectively, as Ex parte No. MC-35, 33 M.C.C. 69, and Ex parte No. 36, 32 M.C.C. 267. The first was made --

"into the practices with respect to the casual, occasional, or reciprocal transportation of passengers in interstate or foreign commerce for compensation, for the purpose of determining whether the exemption

Page 336 U. S. 766

of such transportation as provided in section 203(b)(9) of the Interstate Commerce Act should be removed to the extent of making applicable all provisions of part II of the act to such transportation . . . [when sold under travel bureau practices]."

Ex parte No. MC-35, 33 M.C.C. 69, 70. The second was an investigation into the subject of rules and regulations to govern brokers of passenger transportation subject to Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act. The first investigation later disclosed, among other things, that the --

"Board of Public Utilities and Transportation of the city of Los Angeles during the latter part of 1939 and the early part of 1940 received an average of 8 complaints daily involving travel bureaus. At other cities, abandoned passengers, who were usually found to be without funds, were assisted by private or public charity. In general, the testimony of the witnesses for such organizations as better business bureaus, and travelers' aid societies, based upon a knowledge acquired in the performance of their duties, corroborates that of passengers who testified with regard to the difficulties they encountered while traveling by means of transportation arranged through travel bureaus."

"The law enforcement officials and representatives of eleemosynary and quasi-public organizations who testified favor the removal of the exemption in section 203(b)(9) of the casual, occasional, and reciprocal transportation of passengers for compensation, when such transportation is arranged through travel bureaus, and believe that regulation by this Commission of such transportation is necessary. Their opinions are based principally on the grounds that this type of transportation as now conducted is the cause of inconvenience and hardship to the traveling

Page 336 U. S. 767

public using such transportation, for which adequate redress cannot be obtained, that numerous violations of State and local laws and regulations occur in connection therewith, that State and local officials are unable properly to regulate such operations because of the fact that a large proportion of the transportation is interstate, and that, because of the present practices in connection with such transportation, an unreasonable burden is placed upon private and public charities in caring for passengers abandoned or injured while traveling by this means of transportation."

(Emphasis added.) Id. at pp. 75-76.

7. September 18, 1940. -- Amendments were enacted to Part II, Interstate Commerce Act. Although the final report in Ex parte No. MC-35 was not made until 1942, some of the conditions referred to above were reflected in an amendment made to § 203(b)(9) in 1940. [Footnote 2/20] Congress still left the casual transportation operations generally unlicensed and unregulated by the Commission. Yet, through this 1940 Amendment, Congress did expressly provide that at least when the sales or arrangements for the casual or occasional interstate transportation were made by a licensed broker, then those sales and arrangements were to be considered "subject to" the

Page 336 U. S. 768

Act. The effect of this was to prohibit brokers licensed under the Interstate Commerce Commission from also conducting an unlicensed travel bureau business. This was therefore an express congressional recognition of the policy announced by the Commission in the Frank Broker Application, supra.

In substance, this amounted to a congressional assumption of jurisdiction, in 1940, in conflict with a part of the existing California policy which approved and attempted to regulate these transactions not only in intrastate, but also in interstate transactions. This action of Congress, conforming to the Commission's declaration of policy in the Broker Application cases, substituted this federal prohibition in place of state regulation of these interstate activities. This attitude was strongly reenforced in 1942, and there has been no contrary federal action at any time. See also Copes Broker Application, 27 M.C.C. 153, 155-156, 169-172, decided by the full Commission, December 20, 1940.

8. April 28, 1941. -- California v. Thompson,313 U. S. 109. This case overruled Di Santo v. Pennsylvania,273 U. S. 34. It held that the 1933 California Act, at least prior to 1940, was valid, but the Court made it clear that it did so because Congress had not then taken jurisdiction over travel bureau or brokerage operations in selling or arranging for casual or occasional interstate motor carrier transportation of passengers. The opinion of the Court is full of reservations as to what might be the contrary effect of the taking of federal jurisdiction over these transactions. For example, the Court said:

"Congress has not undertaken to regulate the acts for which respondent was convicted or the interstate transportation to which they related. . . . Hence, we are concerned here only with the constitutional authority of the state to regulate those who, within the state, aid or participate in a form of interstate

Page 336 U. S. 769

commerce over which Congress has not undertaken to exercise its regulatory power."

Id. at 313 U. S. 112, and see pp. 313 U. S. 114 and 313 U. S. 115.

9. June 2, 1941. -- The 1933 California Act, which had been slightly revised in 1935, was substantially amended. The Amendment struck out the express application of the Act to interstate, as well as intrastate, transportation. While the Act evidently still applied, through its general language, to both types of transportation, the omission reflected the State's anticipation of the coming federal control over the interstate transactions. This anticipation was expressly stated in an amendment to § 2 limiting the State's regulation of these interstate transactions to a period in

"the absence of action on the part of Congress or the Interstate Commerce Commission regulating or requiring licenses of motor carrier transportation agents acting as such for motor carriers carrying passengers in interstate commerce. . . . [Footnote 2/21]"

This demonstrated California's recognition of the lack of the necessity for, or even the lack of propriety in, its attempting to exercise state control in the face of federal control. This provision was later held by the Superior Court of

Page 336 U. S. 770

California to cut off completely and voluntarily the state control after the anticipated federal action was taken in 1942. People v. Van Horn, 76 Cal.App.2d 753, 174 P.2d 12.

10. March, 21, 1942. -- This is the most significant date in these proceedings. It marked the issuance of the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, effective May 15, 1942, in Ex parte No. MC-35, 33 M.C.C. 69, 49 C.F.R.Cum.Supp. § 210.1. [Footnote 2/22] That order expressly removed the above-mentioned exemption, which theretofore had excluded from regulation, under Part II of the Interstate Commerce Act, the casual, occasional and reciprocal transportation of passengers by motor vehicle in interstate commerce for compensation as provided in § 203(b)(9). This order removed that exemption

"to the extent necessary to make applicable all provisions of Part II of the Act to such transportation when sold . . . or arranged for, by any person who sells, . . . or arranges for such transportation for compensation or as a regular occupation or business. [Footnote 2/23]"

It thus expressly

Page 336 U. S. 771

brought under federal control the interstate passenger transportation arranged for through travel bureaus, and it also brought those travel bureaus themselves under federal control. It required a license or permit to be secured for the trip and a broker's license to be secured by the bureau. §§ 203(b)(9) and 211(a), 49 Stat. 546,

Page 336 U. S. 772

554, 54 Stat. 921, 49 U.S.C. §§ 303(b)(9) and 311(a). The federal control was coextensive with the problem, and carefully adjusted to it. There was no need, desire, or willingness expressed to accept duplicate parallel state control of these interstate operations. On the other hand, it was expressly stated that it was the inability of the state and local officials properly to regulate such interstate operations that convinced the Commission of the necessity of federal control. Ex parte No. MC-35, supra, p. 76.

The intent of Congress and of its specially qualified Interstate Commerce Commission to take complete control of these interstate operations and to supersede the existing state regulation had been indicated in the amendment to § 203(b)(9), made September 18, 1940. It was demonstrated beyond question in the Commission's report in Ex parte No. MC-35, supra. That report summarized two years of nationwide investigations. It dealt with the travel bureau problem, especially upon an interstate basis. It made specific reference to interstate operations between California and Texas. Typical excerpts from the report have been quoted supra, pp. 336 U. S. 765-767.

Page 336 U. S. 773

Bearing further upon the unsuitability of state and local control over the interstate features of this kind of transportation and upon the need for a more uniform and complete federal control, the report said:

"There can be little doubt that the removal of the exemption may, in some instances, work a hardship upon casual, occasional, or reciprocal transporters of passengers, and upon persons traveling as passengers by that means of transportation, as well as upon travel bureaus. On the other hand, substantial benefits to the general public would result from the proper regulation of such transportation. If it were properly regulated, passengers using such transportation would not encounter many of the difficulties arising at present. In their testimony, briefs, and exceptions, several travel bureaus admit that reasonable rules and regulations governing the operations of travel bureaus in their appropriate and legitimate field are desirable and necessary. Casual, occasional, and reciprocal transportation of passengers cannot be regulated unless the exemption in section 203(b)(9) is at least partially removed. The act does not give us power, without the removal of the exemption referred to, to prescribe reasonable rules and regulations governing, or to regulate in any other manner the operations of, travel bureaus. Proper regulation of travel bureaus engaged in legitimate operations can be accomplished only by amendment of the act."

Id. at p. 80. See also pp. 76-81.

The validity and binding effect of this order was upheld by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, November 18, 1942. See Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in Levin v. United States, sub nom., T. A. Drake et al. v. United States et al., 3 Fed.Car.Cas. (CCH)

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