United States v. Griffin
303 U.S. 226 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 226 (1938)

United States v. Griffin

No. 63

Argued November 19, 1937

Reargued January 3, 1938

Decided February 28, 1938

303 U.S. 226


1. Lack of jurisdiction of the District Court over the subject matter cannot be waived by the parties; when discovered on appeal, dismissal of the bill must be ordered. P. 303 U. S. 229.

2. The jurisdiction to set aside orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission, conferred upon the District Court of three judges by the Urgent Deficiencies Act of October 22, 1913, does not apply to negative orders. P. 303 U. S. 232.

3. An order of the Interstate Commerce Commission declining, upon reexamination, to increase the compensation for carrying mail fixed by an earlier order pursuant to the Railway Mail Pay Act is a negative order. P. 303 U. S. 234.

4. Orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission fixing the compensation payable by the Government to railroads for carrying the mails, even if affirmative orders, are not subject to the extraordinary remedy of the Urgent Deficiencies Act, since they are not within the reasons for it -- namely, to guard against ill considered action by a single judge and to avert delays ordinarily incident to litigation in cases of wide public interest. P. 303 U. S. 234.

Denial of jurisdiction under the Urgent Deficiencies Act leaves open other ways to judicial review of orders respecting railway mail pay. P. 303 U. S. 238.

6. A suit under the Urgent Deficiencies Act to set aside an order concerning mail pay is not primarily against the Commission, but is a suit against the United States. The United States cannot be sued without authority specifically conferred. The Railway Mail Pay Act does not confer that authority. P. 303 U. S. 238.


Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges which set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission refusing an increase of railway mail pay over what had previously been allowed, and which

Page 303 U. S. 227

directed the Commission to take "such further action in the premises as the law requires in view of the annulment and setting aside of" its order.

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