Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Washington,
222 U.S. 370 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Washington, 222 U.S. 370 (1912)

Northern Pacific Railway Company v. Washington

No. 136

Submitted December 19, 1911

Decided January 9, 1912

222 U.S. 370


A train moving and carrying freight between two points in the same state, but which is hauling freight between points one of which is within and the other without the state, or hauling it through the state between points both without the state, is engaged in interstate commerce, and subject to the laws of Congress enacted in regard thereto. Southern Railway Co. v. United States, 222 U. S. 20.

The right of a state to apply its police power to subjects under the exclusive control of Congress, but in regard to which Congress has

Page 222 U. S. 371

been silent, ceases as soon as Congress acts on the subject and manifests its purpose to call into effect its exclusive power.

Congress, by enacting a statute in regard to a subject within its exclusive power, manifests its purpose to call that power into effect, and at once removes that subject from the sphere of state action, and even if Congress provides that the statute shall not go into effect until a subsequent date, the states lose control of that subject during the intermediate period from the enactment to the active operation of the statute.

The enactment by Congress of the Hours of Service Law, March 4, 1907, c. 2939, 34 Stat. 1415, was a manifestation by Congress of its intent to bring the subject of hours of labor of employees of interstate carriers under its control, and, although the act did not go into effect for a year after its passage, the various state laws on the subject became inoperative at once on the enactment.

In this case, the court referred to the report of the committee of Congress having the legislation in charge as indicating the intent of Congress in enacting the statute.

53 Wash. 673 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 222 U. S. 375

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