Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois
Annotate this Case
118 U.S. 557 (1886)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois, 118 U.S. 557 (1886)
Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois
Argued April 14-15, 1886
Decided October 25, 1886
118 U.S. 557
A statute of Illinois enacts that if any railroad company shall, within that state, charge or receive for transporting passengers or freight of the same class, the same or a greater sum for any distance than it does for a longer distance, it shall be liable to a penalty for unjust discrimination. The defendant in this case made such discrimination in regard to goods transported over the same road or roads from Peoria in Illinois and from Gilman in Illinois to New York, charging more for the same class of goods carried from Gilman than from Peoria, the former being eighty-six miles nearer to New York than the latter, this difference being in the length of the line within the State of Illinois.
(1) This Court follows the Supreme Court of Illinois in holding that the statute of Illinois must be construed to include a transportation of goods under one contract and by one voyage from the interior of the State of Illinois to New York.
(2) This Court holds further that such a transportation is "commerce among the states" even as to that part of the voyage which lies within the State of Illinois, while it is not denied that there may be a transportation of goods which is begun and ended within its limits, and disconnected with any carriage outside of the state, which is not commerce among the states.
(3) The latter is subject to regulation by the state, and the statute of Illinois is valid as applied to it. But the former is national in its character, and its regulation is confided to Congress exclusively, by that clause of the Constitution which empowers it to regulate commerce among the states.
(4) The cases of Munn v. Illinois, 94 U. S. 113; Chicago v. Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. Iowa, 94 U. S. 155, and Peik v. Chicago & Northwestern Railway, 94 U. S. 164, examined in regard to this question, and held, in view of other cases decided near the same time, not to establish a contrary doctrine.
(5) Notwithstanding what is there said, this Court holds now, and has never consciously held otherwise, that a statute of a state, intended to regulate or to tax or to impose any other restriction upon the transmission of persons or property or telegraphic messages from one state to another, is not within that class of legislation which the states may enact in the absence of legislation by Congress, and that such statutes are void even as to that part of such transmission which may be within the state.
(6) It follows that the statute of Illinois, as construed by the supreme court of the state and as applied to the transaction under consideration, is forbidden by the Constitution of the United States, and the judgment of that court is reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.