Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, No. 555

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRANDEIS
Citation51 S.Ct. 619,283 U.S. 765,75 L.Ed. 1397
Docket NumberNo. 555
Decision Date01 June 1931
PartiesGEORGIA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION et al. v. UNITED STATES et al

283 U.S. 765
51 S.Ct. 619
75 L.Ed. 1397
GEORGIA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION et al.

v.

UNITED STATES et al.

No. 555.
Argued April 30, 1931.
Decided June 1, 1931.

Page 766

Messrs. Edgar Watkins, of Atlanta, Ga., John S. Burchmore, of Chicago, Ill., Mac Asbill, of Atlanta, Ga., and Luther M. Walter, of Chicago, Ill., for appellants.

The Attorney General and Mr. Daniel W. Knowlton, of Washington, D. C., for appellee Interstate Commerce Commission.

[Argument of Counsel from page 766 intentionally omitted]

Page 767

Mr. Robert C. Alston, of Atlanta, Ga., for appellees Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. and others.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Rates on Chert, Clay, Sand, and Gravel Within States of Georgia, 122 I. C. C. 133, was a proceeding under section 13, paragraphs (3) and (4), of the Interstate Commerce Act (49 USCA § 13, pars. 3, 4), in which the Commission was petitioned to determine whether certain intrastate carload rates on these products, prescribed by the Georgia Public Service Commission, were unduly prejudicial to persons or localities engaged in interstate commerce. Several related cases, arising out of complaints concerning interstate rates on like products between points in the southern territory, were heard on the same record and dealt with in the same report.1 Therein and InterstateComm erce Commission prescribed certain distance scales as a maximum reasonable for interstate single-line and joint-line rates between points in Georgia and points in other states; and found that there was no transportation reason for the maintenance of a different basis of intrastate carload rates for these commodities within the state of Georgia. It did not then enter an order in respect to the intrastate rates, because it

Page 768

believed 'that the Georgia commission will co-operate in authorizing such revisions as might be necessary to bring their rates into harmony with the interstate adjustment herein approved.' 122 I. C. C. 169, 170.2

Thereafter the carriers applied to the Georgia Public Service Commission for leave to establish the same distance scales for intrastate traffic. The state commission refused the application and directed them to establish a scale differing from that applicable to interstate traffic. With that direction the carriers complied; but they petitioned the federal Commission to reopen its proceedings and to determine whether the prescribed intrastate rates result, and will result, in undue prejudice to persons or localities in interstate commerce and in unjust discrimination against such commerce. The petition to reopen the case was granted; the state authorities were again given due notice; and various parties intervened to oppose or support the contested intrastate rates. Upon the supplemental hearing, the Interstate Commerce Commission found that such prejudice and discrimination had resulted, and will result, from the rates prescribed by the Georgia commission; and ordered the carriers to establish intrastate rates 'which shall not be

Page 769

lower, distance considered, than those (the rates) contemporaneously applicable' to the interstate commerce. 160 I. C. C. 309, 326.

To enjoin and set aside that order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and to restrain the carriers from establishing intrastate rates pursuant thereto, two suits (now consolidated) were brought, under the Urgent Deficiencies Act, October 22, 1913, c. 32, 38 Stat. 208, 219 (28 USCA § 41(27), in the federal court for Northern Georgia. The plaintiffs are the Public Service Commission and the state highway board of Georgia; the defendants, the United States and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Carriers operating in Georgia and shippers intervened as defendants. The cases were heard by the District Court on an application for an interlocutory injunction, the bills and answers alone being introduced. The injunction was denied. Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States 39 F.(2d) 167. After final hearing on the full record of the proceedings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, the consolidated bill was dismissed. 42 F.(2d) 467. This appeal is from the final decree.

First. Appellant con tend that the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission is void, because it was entered without the full hearing prescribed by section 13(4). The argument is this: Paragraph 4 prescribes that 'Whenever * * * the Commission, after full hearing, finds' a state rate to be unlawful because it causes undue prejudice or unjust discrimination, 'it shall prescribe the rate, fare, or charge, or the maximum or minimum, or maximum and minimum, thereafter to be charged.' Act of February 28, 1920, c. 91, § 416, 41 Stat. 456, 484, amending Act of February 4, 1887, c. 104, § 13, 24 Stat. 379, 383 (49 USCA § 13(4). The claim is that there was no 'full hearing' before entry of the challenged order, because the Commission limited the supplemental hearing to the question of prejudice and discrimination, and refused to consdier anew

Page 770

the question of the reasonableness of the interstate scales. It is true that, when state rates are assailed on the ground that they result in undue prejudice to interstate shippers or discriminate against interstate commerce, the Commission must determine whether the existing interstate rates are reasonable, as it may not require intrastate rates to be raised above a reasonable level. State Corporation Commission of Virginia v. Aberdeen & Rockfish R. R. Co., 136 I. C. C. 173, 180. But the reasonableness of the interstate rates had already been found when they were established in the earlier stage of the proceedings; and at those hearings the Georgia commission and the highway board were represented. Nearly eighteen months had elapsed since the original order,3 but no evidence was offered at the supplemental hearing to show that conditions had so changed since the interstate rates were prescribed as to require reconsideration of the issue. The appellants' objection to the procedure is unfounded.4

Second. Appellants contend that, while the order prescribes a minimum and a maximum basis for intrastate rates, the minimum basis is so vague and uncertain as to

Page 771

render the entire order void. The order requires the carriers to establish intrastate rates 'which shall not be lower, distance considered, than those contemporaneously applicable to interstate transportation of the same commodities, in straight or mixed carloads, between points in the State of Georgia, and from points in other States in southern territory, except Florida, to points in the State of Georgia, not exceeding the rates set forth in the Appendix to this report and heretofore found and prescribed as reasonable in No. 17517 for the interstate transportation of said commodities in straight or mixed carloads.' The claim is that this language leaves it doubtful whether the word 'contemporaneously' refers only to rates in force at the time of the effective date of the original order, or also to such rates as may be made by the carriers from time to time thereafter, thereby raising or lowering future intrastate rates without the fll h earing provided for by section 13(4). We think it clear from the terms of the...

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56 practice notes
  • State of New York v. United States Hildreth v. Same Atchison Co v. Same 345, S.F.R
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 12, 1947
    ...in this type of situation, as in the case where intrastate commerce is involved, Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 1397, may remove unlawful discriminations and prescribe new rates. In Texas & Pacific R. Co. v. United States, supra,......
  • Towne Services House. Goods Transp. Co. v. United States, Civ. A. No. A-70-CA-114.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • July 14, 1971
    ...consistency of its conclusion with those reached in similar cases.' (Italics added), Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 775, 51 S.Ct. 619, 623, 75 L.Ed. 1397 Again in Yale Transport Corporation v. United States of America, et al. (S.D. N.Y.1962) 210 F.Supp. 86......
  • Roadway Express, Inc. v. United States, Civ. A. No. 2419.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • January 21, 1963
    ...of factual statements by reference to the Examiners' reports has been held proper. Georgia Public Service Comm. v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 771, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 8 Examiner Hagerty's Recommended Report, p. 24. 9 Ibid. 10 The chief variation of Examiner Pellerzi's recommendations f......
  • Gulf, M. & NR Co. v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., No. 88.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Tennessee
    • November 10, 1937
    ...were filed on May 22, 1933. The order must be read in connection with the report. Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 1397; Illinois Commerce Commission v. United States, 292 U.S. 474, 54 S.Ct. 783, 78 L.Ed. 1371; Beaumont, S. L. & W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
56 cases
  • State of New York v. United States Hildreth v. Same Atchison Co v. Same 345, S.F.R
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 12, 1947
    ...in this type of situation, as in the case where intrastate commerce is involved, Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 1397, may remove unlawful discriminations and prescribe new rates. In Texas & Pacific R. Co. v. United States, supra,......
  • Towne Services House. Goods Transp. Co. v. United States, Civ. A. No. A-70-CA-114.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • July 14, 1971
    ...consistency of its conclusion with those reached in similar cases.' (Italics added), Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 775, 51 S.Ct. 619, 623, 75 L.Ed. 1397 Again in Yale Transport Corporation v. United States of America, et al. (S.D. N.Y.1962) 210 F.Supp. 86......
  • Roadway Express, Inc. v. United States, Civ. A. No. 2419.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • January 21, 1963
    ...of factual statements by reference to the Examiners' reports has been held proper. Georgia Public Service Comm. v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 771, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 8 Examiner Hagerty's Recommended Report, p. 24. 9 Ibid. 10 The chief variation of Examiner Pellerzi's recommendations f......
  • Gulf, M. & NR Co. v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., No. 88.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Tennessee
    • November 10, 1937
    ...were filed on May 22, 1933. The order must be read in connection with the report. Georgia Public Service Commission v. United States, 283 U.S. 765, 51 S.Ct. 619, 75 L.Ed. 1397; Illinois Commerce Commission v. United States, 292 U.S. 474, 54 S.Ct. 783, 78 L.Ed. 1371; Beaumont, S. L. & W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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