ICC+v+Cinti+New+Orleans+and+Tex+Pac+RR+_1897_ - *B* Federal...

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Unformatted text preview: *B* Federal Transportation Regulation Interstate Comrmrce Commission v Cinti., New Orleans :& Tex. Pan. Ry. C0. The Wabash decision spurred the drive for federal regulation of the national railway network, and the following year, Congress enacted the Interstate Commerce Act. Among other things, the law required rail rates to be “reasonable” and “just,” and a five man commission was established to enforce the whole law. The commission was not empowered to set rates, but by implication, the commissioners soon assumed the power to issue cease and desist orders against unreasonable rates. But nothing in the not implied any authority for the ICC to fix new rate schedules in place of the suspended ones. In the case below, the Court specifically denied any such “legislative” rule for the commission. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the Court. efore the passage of the [Interstate Commerce] act it was generally believed that there were great abuses in railroad management and railroad transportation, and the grave question which Congress had to consider was how those abuses should be corrected and what control should be taken of the business of such corporations. The present in- quiry is limited to the question as to what it determined should be done with reference to the matter of rates. There were three obvious and dissimilar courses open for consideration. Congress might itself pre~ scribe the rates; or it might commit to some subordinate tribunal this duty; or it might leave with the companies the right to fix rates, subject to regulations and restrictions, as well as to that rule which is as old as the existence of common carriers, to wit, that rates must be reasonable. There is nothing in the act fixing rates. Congress did not attempt to 167 U.S. 479 (1897) 258 I.C’.C. v. 'Cinti., New Orleans 2’:- Tex. Pac. Ry. Co. 259 exercise that power, and if we examine the legislative and public history of the day it is apparent that there was no serious thought of doing so. The question debated is whether it vested in the commission the power and the duty to fix rates; and the fact that this is a debatable question, and has been most strenuously and earnestly debated, is very persuasive that it‘ did not. The grant of such a power is never to be implied. The power“ itself is so vast "and comprehensive, so largely affecting the rights of carrier and shipper, as well as indirectly all commercial transactions, the language by which the power is given had been so often used and was so familiar to the legislative mind and is capable of such definite and exact statement, that no just rule of construction would tolerate a grant of such power by mere implication. . It is one thing to inquire whether the rates which have been charged and collected are reasonable—~that is a judicial act; but an entirely different thing to prescribe rates which shall be charged in the future —~ that is a legislative act. Chicago, Milwaukee ire. Railway V. Minne- sota. . . It will be perceived that in this case the Interstate Commerce Com- mission assumed the right to prescribe rates which should control in the future, and their application to the court was for a mandamus to compel the companies to comply with their decision; that is, to abide by their legislative determination as to the maximum rates to be observed in the future. Now, nowhere in the interstate commerce act do we find words similar to those in the statutes referred to, giving to the commission power to “increase or reduce any of the rates”; “to establish rates of charges”; “to make and fix reasonable and just rates of freight and pas- senger tariifs”; “to make a schedulexof reasonable maximum rates of charges”; “to fix tables of maximum charges”; to compel the carrier “to adopt such rate, charge or classification as said commissioners shall de- clare to be equitable and reasonable.” The power, therefore, is not ex- pressly given. . . . Congress did not intend to give to the commission the power to prescribe any tariif and determine what for the future should be reasonable and just rates. The power given is the power to exe- cute and enforce, not to legislate. The power given is partly judicial, partly executive and administrative, but not legislative. . We have, therefore, these considerations presented: First. The power to prescribe a tariif of rates for carriage by a common carrier is a legisla- tive and not an administrative or judicial function, and, having respect to the large amount of property invested in railroads, the various compa- nies engaged therein, the thousands of miles of road, and the millions of tons of freight carried, the varying and diverse conditions attaching to such carn'age, is a power of supreme delicacy and importance. Second. That Congress has transferred such a power to any administrative body is not to be presumed or implied from any doubtful and uncertain lan- 260 Federal Transportation Regulation guage. The words and phrases efficacious to make such a delegation of power are well understood and have been frequently used, and if Con- gress had intended to grant such a power to the Interstate Commerce Commission it cannot be doubted that it would have used language open to no misconstruction, but clear and direct. Third. Incorporating into a statute the common law obligation resting upon the carrier to make all its charges reasonable and just, and directing the commission to execute and enforce the provisions of the act, does not by implication carry to the commissioner or invest it with the power to exercise the legislative function of prescribing rates which shall control in the future. Fourth. Beyond the inference which irresistibly follows from the omission to grant in express terms to the commission this power of fixing rates, is the clear language of section 6, recognizing the right of the carrier to estab- lish rates, to increase or reduce them, and prescribing the conditions upon which such increase or reduction may be made, and requiring, as the only conditions of its action, first, publication, and, ‘second, the filing of the tariff with the commission. The grant to the commission of the power to prescribe the form of the schedules, and to direct the place and manner of publication of joint rates, thus specifying the scope and limit of its functions in this respect, strengthens the conclusion that the power to prescribe rates or fix any tariff for the future is not among the powers granted. to the commission. These considerations convince us that under the interstate commerce act the commission has no power to prescribe the tarilf of rates which shall control in the future, and, therefore, cannot invoke a judgment in mandamus from the courts to enforce any such tariff by it prescribed. . . . ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2012 for the course 512 404 taught by Professor Clemens during the Spring '12 term at Rutgers.

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ICC+v+Cinti+New+Orleans+and+Tex+Pac+RR+_1897_ - *B* Federal...

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