Secretary of Agriculture v. United States,
347 U.S. 645 (1954)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Secretary of Agriculture v. United States, 347 U.S. 645 (1954)

Secretary of Agriculture v. United States

Argued April 27-28, 1954

Decided June 7, 1954*

347 U.S. 645


The Interstate Commerce Commission approved special charges, in addition to the existing line-haul rates, for unloading services performed by railroads transporting fruits and vegetables into New York and Philadelphia. Normally, unloading is done by the consignee, but at these points, due to special conditions, the unloading is performed by the carriers at considerable expense. The produce is not accessible to the consignees until after it has been unloaded. Various protestants contended that, since circumstances here make the unloading a part of the transportation service, the Commission could not allow these special charges without first examining the sufficiency of the line-haul rates to cover these unloading costs. On appeal from a judgment of the District Court upholding the order of the Commission,

Held: the judgment is vacated and the cases are remanded to the Commission because of the inadequacy of its findings to explain the legal basis of its decision. Pp. 347 U. S. 646-655.

(a) In dealing with technical and complex matters, the Commission must necessarily have wide discretion in formulating appropriate solutions. But here, the Commission has not adequately explained its departure from prior norms. A court must know clearly what a Commission decision, when challenged, means before it can say whether that decision can be sustained. Pp. 347 U. S. 650-654.

(b) In respect of appellants' contention that to permit separate charges to be imposed for the unloading of fruits and vegetables, while not imposing similar charges on other commodities unloaded at these points, violates §§ 2 and 3 of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Commission, on remand, should also make more explicit findings as to the differences and similarities in the treatment accorded other commodities unloaded at these same points. Pp. 347 U. S. 654-655.

Page 347 U. S. 646

(c) The Commission should also be more explicit in stating the reasons that led it to assimilate, so far as these unloading charges are concerned, the situation at Philadelphia to that at New York. P. 347 U. S. 655.

114 F.Supp. 420, judgment vacated and cases remanded.

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