United States v. Missouri Pacific R. Co.,
278 U.S. 269 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., 278 U.S. 269 (1929)

United States v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company


Argued March 5, 6, 1928

Reargued April 24, and November 19, 20, 1928

Decided January 2, 1929

278 U.S. 269


1. An order of the Interstate Commerce Commission requiring a railroad carrier to participate in proposed through routes exceeds the authority granted by paragraph (3) of § 15 of the Interstate Commerce Act as restricted by paragraph (4), where the part of the carrier's railroad to be included is slight in length as compared with other parts over which it enjoys long hauls under existing routes between termini the same as those proposed.

So held where existing routes were not found unreasonably long and where neither § 3 of the Act nor water transportation was involved. P. 278 U. S. 276.

2. The provision of paragraph (4) forbidding the Commission to embrace in a through route substantially less than the entire length of a carrier's railroad which lies between the termini of such route cannot be construed as covering only such routes as will deprive the carrier of its long haul after it has obtained possession of the traffic. P. 278 U. S. 277.

3. Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, there is no room for construction. Even if inconveniences or hardships result from following the statute as written, construction may not be substituted for legislation to relieve them. P. 278 U. S. 277.

4. Where the language of a statute is clear and does not lead to absurd or impracticable consequences, its legislative history may not be used to support a construction that adds to or takes from the significance of the words employed. P 278 U. S. 278.

5. The reasons for, and significant circumstances leading up to, the enactment may, however, be noticed in confirmation of the meaning conveyed by the words used. P. 278 U. S. 278.

6. The rule that reenactment of a statute after it has been construed by officers charged with its enforcement impliedly adopts the construction applies only when the construction is not plainly erroneous, and to cases presenting the precise conditions passed on prior to the reenactment. P. 278 U. S. 279.

7. The rule attaching weight to a definitely settled administrative construction is inapplicable where the statute is not doubtful, and

Page 278 U. S. 270

if the construction has not been uniform, it will be taken into account only to the extent that it is supported by valid reasons. P. 278 U. S. 280.

21 F.2d 351, affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of a district court of three judges permanently enjoining the enforcement of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission establishing through routes and joint rates. The suit was brought against the United States by the above-named Railroad. The Commission and Ft. Smith, Subiaco, and Rock Island Railroad intervened to defend. All parties defendant appealed.

Page 278 U. S. 273

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