Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States
298 U.S. 349 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States, 298 U.S. 349 (1936)

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. v. United States

No. 312

Argued January 14, 15, 1936

Reargued March 3, 4, 1936

Decided May 18, 1936

298 U.S. 349


1. The function of the Interstate Commerce Commission, in prescribing divisions of joint rates under § 15(6) of the Interstate Commerce Act, is a legislative function. P. 298 U. S. 356.

2. Exertion of the power of the Commission in that regard is conditioned upon its finding, after a full hearing, that the divisions in force do not, or in the future will not, comply with the standards specified by § 1(4). Id.

3. In proceedings to determine and prescribe divisions, the Commission is governed by §§ 1(4), 15(6), and 15a(2) of the Act; it is not required or authorized to investigate or determine whether the joint rates are reasonable or confiscatory; its duty is to make the divisions fair, and this does not depend upon the level of the rates or the amounts of revenue to be divided. P. 298 U. S. 357.

4. When made in accordance with the Act, the Commission's orders prescribing divisions are equivalent to Acts of Congress requiring the carriers to serve for the amounts so specified. Id.

5. An order of the Commission prescribing divisions, or continuing them in force, may be declared void and its enforcement permanently enjoined at the suit of a carrier whose share of the joint rate proves to be noncompensatory, even though the joint rate itself be not confiscatory. Id.

6. An order of the Commission denying relief to a carrier complaining under § 15(6) of the Act of unjust and inequitable divisions of joint rates operates to require service under them, and, though negative in form, is in effect affirmative. P. 298 U. S. 358.

7. An order of the Commission sustaining divisions of joint rates as just, reasonable, and equitable under § 15(6) of the Act is not arbitrary and in excess of the Commission's power because based in part on the financial needs of the carriers. Id.

8. In determining, under § 15(6) of the Act, the divisions of joint rates on a particular class of traffic, the Commission may consider not only the revenues, operating expenses, taxes, and returns attributable to that particular traffic, but also those that are

Page 298 U. S. 350

attributable to all the operations of the railroad properties of the carriers. P. 298 U. S. 360.

9. A report and order of the Interstate Commerce Commission from which some of the members dissent has the same legal effect as if supported by all. P. 298 U. S. 361.

10. Findings of the Commission in fixing divisions under § 15(6) of the Act and its determination of the significance of the particular facts found held conclusive though too much weight was given to the financial needs of carriers. P. 298 U. S. 362.

11. Where the application of carriers to the Interstate Commerce Commission for just, reasonable, and equitable divisions of joint rates under § 15(6) of the Act raised no question of confiscation, held that the findings in its report could not be construed as addressed to that issue. P. 298 U. S. 363.

12. Denial by the Interstate Commerce Commission of a petition for rehearing of an order sustaining divisions of joint rates, the petition raising for the first time the issue of confiscation, held to amount to a command by the Commission that, notwithstanding their invocation of constitutional protection, the petitioning carriers must make the adjustment ordered, involving the payment of enormous sums and the use of their property to serve the public for the compensation specified in the order. P. 298 U. S. 363.

13. Upon the question whether the divisions of joint rates prescribed by the Interstate Commerce Commission constitute just compensation within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment, the findings of the Commission could not constitutionally be made conclusive. The District Court may receive evidence in addition to what was before the Commission and weigh all the evidence and make its own findings in deciding the constitutional question. St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States, ante p. 298 U. S. 38. P. 298 U. S. 364.

14. A carrier petitioning the Commission for just, reasonable, and equitable divisions of joint rates -- the reasonableness of the rates themselves not being in question -- is not obliged to raise in advance the question whether the existing divisions are confiscatory. Held that, in this case, the complaining carriers who sought in vain, by petition for rehearing, to have the Commission inquire into the alleged confiscatory results of its order were entitled to seek judicial relief. P. 298 U. S. 369.

15. Evidence held insufficient to prove with the requisite certainty that the divisions of joint rates on transportation of citrus fruit have proved or will prove to be confiscatory. P. 298 U. S. 372.

9 F.Supp. 181 affirmed.

Page 298 U. S. 351

Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges which dismissed a bill to enjoin the enforcement of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission determining divisions of joint rates on transportation of citrus fruit.

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