247 U.S. 105 (1918), 274, Western Union Telegraph Company v. Foster

Docket Nº:No. 274, 275, 419, 420
Citation:247 U.S. 105, 38 S.Ct. 438, 62 L.Ed. 1006
Party Name:Western Union Telegraph Company v. Foster
Case Date:May 20, 1918
Court:United States Supreme Court

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247 U.S. 105 (1918)

38 S.Ct. 438, 62 L.Ed. 1006

Western Union Telegraph Company



No. 274, 275, 419, 420

United States Supreme Court

May 20, 1918

Argued April 29, 30, 1918




The New York Stock Exchange, for lump sums, contracted with telegraph companies to furnish them continuous stock quotations, to be furnished by them in turn to their subscribers by ticker service; each subscriber's application must be subject in terms to his being approved by the Exchange before it became effective, and must authorize the company to discontinue his service whenever so directed by the Exchange, the contract declaring that the Exchange reserved these rights to prevent improper use of the facts. Under this arrangement, the quotation, a received from the Exchange in New York, were wired in Morse code to Boston, where they were

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decoded and wired to the tickers, the wire of other companies being in part used in the process. Held, that the transmission of the quotations remained interstate commerce until completed in the subscribers' offices, and that an order of a Massachusetts commission, requiring the companies to cease discriminating against a would-be subscriber whom the Exchange disapproved was a direct interference with such commerce not sanctioned under the police power of the state or its power over streets crossed by the telegraph which infringed the constitutional right of the companies and those of the Exchange.

224 Mass. 365 reversed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

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HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

Four cases were argued together in this Court. The first two were suits in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, one a statutory petition by the telegraph companies to have an order of the Public Service Commission annulled, the other a bill by the Commission to have the same order enforced. The cases were consolidated and reserved on the pleadings for determination by the full court, which decreed that the petition of the plaintiffs in error should be dismissed and the order of

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the Commission obeyed. 224 Mass. 365. The order recited that the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company, by the Western Union Telegraph Company, lessee, and the United Telegram Company had, without just cause, refused to supply to Calvin H. Foster the continuous quotations of the New York Stock Exchange by means of ticker service then supplied to others, declared the refusal an unlawful discrimination, and required the two companies to remove the discrimination forthwith.

The material facts may be abridged as follows: the New York Stock Exchange, having a monopoly of the information collected by it on the floor of the Exchange concerning the prices quoted in transactions there, made...

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