Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. Co. v United States
Annotate this Case
231 U.S. 363 (1913)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. Co. v United States, 231 U.S. 363 (1913)
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western
Railroad Company v United States
Argued October 17, 1913
Decided December 1, 1913
231 U.S. 363
The commodity clause of the Hepburn Act applies not only to the carrier's goods from point of production to the market, but also to goods from market to that point.
While the power to regulate interstate commerce is subject to the provisions of the Fifth Amendment, an enactment, such as the commodity clause, which does not take property or arbitrarily deprive the carrier of a property right does not violate that Amendment.
In dealing with interstate carriers, the fact that some of them are also engaged in private business does not compel Congress to legislate concerning them as carriers in such manner as not to interfere with such private business.
The commodity clause is general, and applies to all shipments, even if innocent in themselves, which come within its scope; its operation is not confined to particular instances in which the carriers might use its power to the prejudice of shippers. Supplies, purchased for use in operating a carrier's mines, 75% of the product of which is intended for sale and only 25% intended for the carrier's own use, are not necessary for the conduct of its business as a carrier, and fall within the prohibition of the commodity clause of the Hepburn Act.
Although the purchaser may have the right to rescind for a condition subsequent, title may pass on delivery, and so held in this case that title to hay purchased by, and delivered to, a railroad company passed to it although payment was postponed until after inspection and acceptance.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Commodities Clause of the Hepburn Act of June 29, 1906, are stated in the opinion.