United States v. Hamburg-Amerikanische Co.,
239 U.S. 466 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Hamburg-Amerikanische Co., 239 U.S. 466 (1916)

United States v. Hamburg-Amerikanische

Packetfahrt-Actien Gesellschaft

Nos. 289, 332

Argued November 3, 4, 1915

Decided January 10, 1916

239 U.S. 466


This Court cannot pass upon questions which have, as an inevitable legal consequence of the European War now flagrant, become moot. This Court takes judicial notice of the European War, and that its inevitable consequence has been to interrupt the steamship business between this country and Europe.

It is a rule of this Court based on fundamental principle of public policy not to establish a rule for controlling predicted future conduct, and it will not decide a case involving a combination alleged to be in violation of the Anti-Trust Act which has become moot as a legal consequence of war because of probability of its being recreated on the cessation of war. California v. San Pablo R. Co., 149 U. S. 308.

The power of this Court cannot be enlarged or its duty affected in regard to the decision of a moot case by stipulation of parties or counsel.

Where a case to dissolve a combination alleged to be illegal under the Anti-Trust Act has become moot and this Court has thus been prevented from deciding it upon the merits, and the court below decided against the government, the course most consonant with justice is to reverse, with directions to dismiss the bill without prejudice to the government in the future to assail any actual contract or combination deemed to offend the Anti-Trust Act.

216 F. 971 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of July 2, 1890 and the practice of this Court in regard to cases which have become moot, and the effect of the legal consequence of war, are stated in the opinion.

Page 239 U. S. 468

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