Engineers v. Chicago, R.I. & Pac. R. Co.,
382 U.S. 423 (1966)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Engineers v. Chicago, R.I. & Pac. R. Co., 382 U.S. 423 (1966)

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago,

Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Co.

No. 69

Argued December 8-9, 1965

Decided January 31, 1966*

382 U.S. 423


Appellees, a group of interstate railroads operating in Arkansas, sued in District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that two Arkansas statutes which provided for train crews of minimum sizes were unconstitutional. Appellees claimed that, as to them, the statutes violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause; that they discriminated against interstate, and favored intrastate, commerce because, by exempting lines below certain mileages, they excluded from coverage all intrastate railroads, but included most of the interstate railroads operating in Arkansas; and that they invaded a legislative field primarily preempted by the Federal Government with the enactment in 1963 of Public Law 88-108. That statute provided for compulsory arbitration of then current collective bargaining disputes over the use of railroad firemen and over manning levels for railroad crews, and for arbitration awards that were to expire two years after the awards went into effect. A three-judge District Court granted appellees' motion for summary judgment on the single ground that the Arkansas statutes conflicted with Public Law 88-108, which was held to preempt the field of regulation.


1. Since there were substantial constitutional challenges in this case in addition to the preemption issue, it was proper to convene a three-judge District Court, from whose judgment a direct appeal lies to this Court. Swift & Co. v. Wickham, ante, p. 382 U. S. 111, distinguished. P. 382 U. S. 428.

2. It was not the legislative purpose of Public Law 88-108 to preempt the field of manning-level regulation and supersede States' full-crew laws, nor was that the effect of the statute or of the arbitration awards made thereunder. Pp. 382 U. S. 429-437.

Page 382 U. S. 424

(a) As held in Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Norwood, 283 U. S. 249, at 283 U. S. 256, one of three cases in which this Court upheld the Arkansas statutes against federal preemption charges, Congress, in the absence of a clearly expressed purpose, will not be held to have intended to prevent exercise of the States' police power to regulate crew sizes. P. 382 U. S. 429.

(b) The problem of railroad manning levels, and particularly whether or not retention of firemen is necessary, has led to constant collective bargaining disputes between the railroads and unions. Public Law 88-108 was enacted to deal with such a dispute which began in 1959, and, by 1963, despite various settlement efforts, reached an impasse which threatened to result in a nationwide strike. Pp. 382 U. S. 429-431.

(c) The statute was intended to deal with that emergency on a temporary basis only, and was not designed either permanently to supplant collective bargaining over manning levels or to supersede state full-crew laws. Pp. 382 U. S. 431-437.

3. The record in this case does not support a conclusion that the mileage bases fixed for application of the statutes were irrational and discriminatory. Pp. 382 U. S. 437-438.

4. The cause is remanded to the District Court for consideration of the constitutional issues not yet decided. P. 382 U. S. 438.

239 F.Supp. 1, reversed and remanded.

Page 382 U. S. 425

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