United States v. Jones,
336 U.S. 641 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Jones, 336 U.S. 641 (1949)

United States v. Jones

Argued February 2-3, 1949

Decided April 18, 1949*

336 U.S. 641


1. After the Interstate Commerce Commission had twice denied applications by a railroad for increased compensation for carrying the mail, on the ground that the general rates fixed by the Commission under the Railway Mail Pay Act, 39 U.S.C. §§ 523-568, and already paid were "fair and reasonable" as applied to such railroad, the Court of Claims awarded the railroad a money judgment for additional compensation.

Held: this amounted to a review and revision of the Commission's findings and orders, and was beyond the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims. Pp. 336 U. S. 651-653, 336 U. S. 662-671.

(a) Congress has not expressly empowered the Court of Claims to review rate orders of the Commission either to set them aside or to render a money judgment for additional amounts found due upon a determination of the invalidity of such an order, and to infer an intention to confer such jurisdiction would be contrary to the limitations Congress has placed upon review of such orders wherever expressly provided as well as to the whole history and practice of Congress in conferring jurisdiction on the Court of Claims. Pp. 336 U. S. 651-653.

(b) No such jurisdiction was intended to be suggested by the language of this Court's opinion in United States v. Griffin, 303 U. S. 226, 303 U. S. 238. Pp. 336 U. S. 666-671.

(c) In this case, the Court of Claims has not "given effect" to the Commission's rate order, but, in the guise of finding "error of law," has set it aside, together with the Commission's findings, has substituted "findings" of its own, and, in effect, has made a new order by its judgment. Pp. 336 U. S. 653, 336 U. S. 662-665, 336 U. S. 669.

(d) The same result would follow if this suit could be regarded as one for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment, since respondent has not shown that the Commission's order was confiscatory

Page 336 U. S. 642

and since the entry of a money judgment by the Court of Claims would short-circuit the Commission in the ratemaking process. Pp. 336 U. S. 670-671.

(e) Where the Commission is alleged to have acted in excess of its authority or otherwise illegally, a more appropriate remedy would be a suit in a district court as one arising under the postal laws, 28 U.S.C. § 1339, since, unlike the Court of Claims, a district court is not confined to rendering a money judgment by way of relief against the United States, but, if it found a rate order invalid, would have power under its general equity jurisdiction to remand the cause to the Commission for further proceedings. Pp. 336 U. S. 671-673.

2. After reviewing the extended litigation arising out of application to this carrier of the Commission's general orders fixing rates for transporting mail, this Court finds (1) that the carrier has not sustained its burden of showing that the Commission acted arbitrarily or unreasonably, and (2) that the general rates fixed by the Commission's 1928 order are, upon the record made, fair and reasonable as applied to this carrier. Pp. 336 U. S. 653-666.

110 Ct.Cl. 330, 77 F.Supp. 197, reversed.

In a suit by the receiver of a railroad, the Court of Claims awarded a judgment for increased compensation for the transportation of mail notwithstanding findings and orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission (192 I.C.C. 779; 214 I.C.C. 66) denying any increase beyond the amounts already paid for that service under the general rates fixed by the Commission. 110 Ct.Cl. 330, 77 F.Supp. 197. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 883. Reversed and remanded, p. 336 U. S. 673.

Page 336 U. S. 643

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