1. A corporation acquired natural gas in Louisiana, piped it
into Arkansas, and there disposed of it, partly by selling it as a
public utility to consumers in cities -- an activity carried on
through a special department of the corporate business -- and
partly by sales to selected industrial and other customers, under
special contracts made in Louisiana, delivery of gas being made to
them directly from the main pipeline, or through connecting spurs.
that a general order of an Arkansas state agency
requiring all public utilities to file schedules of their rates is
not unconstitutional when applied to the sales under the special
contracts even though they be sales in interstate commerce. P.
304 U. S.
In the circumstances, it may be highly important for the State,
which regulates local rates, to have information of all the
operations. Merely requiring comprehensive reports of such
operations would not materially burden or unduly interfere with
2. The Court is not called upon to decide whether the sales
under the special contracts are subject to rate regulation by
Arkansas. P. 304 U. S.
194 Ark. 354, 108 S.W.2d 586, affirmed.
Appeal from a Judgment which reversed that of a court of first
instance holding invalid an order of the State Department of Public
Utilities. The case got into the latter court by petition for a
review of the order.
Page 304 U. S. 62
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Appellant, a Delaware corporation, lawfully purchases and
produces natural gas in Texas and Louisiana and thereafter
transports and delivers it through pipelines to selected industries
and public utility distributing corporations -- so-called "pipeline
customers" -- at points in Arkansas. These deliveries are made
under contracts entered into at Shreveport, Louisiana, and are
effected by tapping a main pipeline or through connecting spurs.
They amount annually to some eight billion cubic feet.
Appellant, by admission, also maintains a distribution
department, through which it acts as a public utility for the local
sale and distribution of gas in many Arkansas towns, but this
organization is distinct from the one which supplies pipeline
The Arkansas Department of Public Utilities, proceeding under a
local statute, Laws Ark.1935, No. 324, p. 895, in April, 1935,
issued a general order (No. 13) requiring public utilities to file,
upon specified forms, schedules of rates, charges, etc. Appellant
presented such schedules for local utility service in the state,
but declined to file copies of contracts, agreements, etc., for
sales and deliveries to pipeline customers.
Thereupon the Department issued an order to show cause for this
failure. In response, appellant
"set forth that the sale and delivery of gas from its Texas and
Louisiana fields to its pipeline and industrial customers in
Arkansas constitute interstate commerce, and that, in making such
sales and deliveries, it was and is not acting as a public utility,
and that, accordingly, the sale and delivery of said gas and the
rates, schedules, and charges upon which the same is delivered and
sold, were and are not subject to the jurisdiction of the
Department, and are
Page 304 U. S. 63
beyond its power to regulate, and that Order No. 13 is not
legally applicable to said business."
After a hearing upon the citation and response and much
evidence, April 30, 1936, the Department ordered compliance with
the general order. The matter then went for review to the circuit
court, Pulaski county, and it held the challenged order invalid.
Upon appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the sales and deliveries
in question were not free from state regulation because parts of
interstate commerce and directed compliance with the Department's
The question for present determination is whether this general
order, valid under the laws of the state, which only compels
appellant to file certain designated information, amounts to an
infringement of any right or privilege guaranteed to it by the
Federal Constitution. And to this, a negative answer must be
If, as claimed, certain of appellant's activities in Arkansas
are parts of interstate commerce, that alone (and no other defense
is relied upon) would not suffice to justify refusal to furnish the
information presently demanded by the state.
Appellant operates locally at many places in Arkansas, and also
delivers within the state great quantities of gas said to move
without interruption from another state. In such circumstances, it
may be highly important for the state authorities to have
information concerning all its operations. We are unable to see
that merely to require comprehensive reports covering all of them
would materially burden or unduly interfere with the free flow of
commerce between the states.
In case the Department undertakes by some future action to
impose what may be deemed unreasonable restraint or burden upon
appellant's interstate business through rate regulation or
otherwise, that may be contested.
Page 304 U. S. 64
The rule here often announced is that no constitutional question
will be passed upon unless necessary for disposition of the pending
The judgment of the Supreme Court must be
MR. JUSTICE CARDOZO took no part in the consideration or
decision of this cause.