Swayne Hoyt v. United States, No. 494

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation57 S.Ct. 478,300 U.S. 297,81 L.Ed. 659
PartiesSWAYNE & HOYT, Limited, et al. v. UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 494
Decision Date01 March 1937

300 U.S. 297
57 S.Ct. 478
81 L.Ed. 659
SWAYNE & HOYT, Limited, et al.

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 494.
Argued Feb. 11, 12, 1937.
Decided March 1, 1937.

Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia.

Messrs.

Page 298

Elisha Hanson and Eliot C. Lovett, both of Washington, D.C., for appellants.

Mr. Golden W.

Page 299

Bell, Asst. Sol. Gen., of Washington, D.C., for the United States.

Mr. Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellants are steamship corporations engaged in the transportation of freight through the Panama Canal between United States ports on the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific Coast. They constitute the Gulf Intercoastal Conference, which operates under an agreement, approved March 28, 1934, by the United States Shipping Board Bureau of the Department of Commerce, as provided by section 15 of the Shipping Act of 1916, 39 Stat. 733, 46 U.S.C. § 814 (46 U.S.C.A. § 814). On May 25, 1933, the Conference, in conformity to the Intercoastal Shipping Act of 1933, section 2, 47 Stat. 1425, 46 U.S.C. § 844 (46 U.S.C.A. § 844), filed with the United States Shipping Board Bureau a new tariff, effective June 2, 1933, publishing certain rates for the transportation of freight, westbound from coast to coast.

The tariff, continuing the contract system in use by the Conference, provided for 'contract rates' for specified commodities, to be enjoyed by shippers who agree with the Conference, by written contract, to make all their shipments of those commodities by vessel of the Conference members for a specified period. The tariff rates on the same commodities for shippers not entering into contracts were $2 per ton higher than the contract rates. In 1934, the Secretary of Commerce ordered an investigation by the Shipping Board Bureau of the lawfulness of the contract rate system (see section 22 of the Shipping Act, 39 Stat. 736, 46 U.S.C. § 821 (46 U.S.C.A. § 821), and section 3 of the Intercoastal Shipping Act of 1933, 47 Stat. 1426, 46 U.S.C. § 845 (46 U.S.C.A. § 845)). The ensuing report condemned the discrimination, and on July 3, 1935, the Secretary ordered the appellants to cease charging the higher rates to shippers who had not entered into contracts.

Page 300

In September of that year appellants filed new rate schedules, effective October 3, 1935, which continued the contract rate system. Thereupon the Secretary vacated his order of July 3d and made an order suspending the schedules and directing a second hearing concerning the lawfulness of the contract rate system. On this hearing new evidence was introduced, and relevant portions of the evidence adduced on the previous hearing were spread upon the record. In a report reviewing this record, the Secretary found that the 'real purpose of the suspended rates * * * is to prevent shippers from using the lines of other carriers and to discourage all others from attempting to engage in intercoastal transportation from and to the Gulf.' He accordingly found the rates unduly prejudicial and ordered their cancellation.

The present suit was brought in the District Court for the District of Columbia, three judges sitting, to set aside the order of the Secretary as without his statutory authority and because not supported by substantial evidence. From the decree of the district court sustaining the Secretary's order, 18 F.Supp. 25, the case comes here on appeal under section 31 of the Shipping Act, 39 Stat. 738, 46 U.S.C. § 830 (46 U.S.C.A. § 830), and the Act of October 22, 1913, 38 Stat. 220, 28 U.S.C. § 47 (28 U.S.C.A. § 47). Appellants here, as in the court below, have assigned as error that the Secretary was without authority to make the order under review because the Executive Order of June 10, 1933, No. 6166, § 12, which abolished the United States Shipping Board and transferred its functions to the Department of Commerce, was without constitutional and legislative authority, and because the findings and order of the Secretary were without support in the evidence.

First. Since the appeal was taken, the contention that the transfer to the Secretary, by Executive Order (No. 6166, § 12), of powers conferred by the Shipping Act on the United States Shipping Board, was unauthorized by the terms of Title 4 of the Legislative Appropriation Act

Page 301

of June 30, 1932, 47 Stat. 413, as amended, 47 Stat. 1517, has been put at rest by the decision of this Court in Isbrandtsen-Moller Co., Inc., v. United States et al., 300 U.S. 139, 57 S.Ct. 407, 81 L.Ed. 562, February 1, 1937. There we held that the failure of Congress, if any, to express its will in the earlier act had been remedied by various later acts mentioning the Executive Order, and making appropriations to the Department of Commerce for payment of the expenses of carrying out the provisions of the Shipping Act,1 and by section 204(a) of the Merchant Marine Act of June 29, 1936, 49 Stat. 1985 (46 U.S.C.A. § 1114), which referred to functions of the former Shipping Board as 'now vested in the Department of Commerce pursuant to section 12 of the President's Executive Order No. 6166,' and transferred them to the newly-constituted United States Maritime Commission.

To dispose of further contentions also urged here, that Congress was without constitutional power to delegate to the President authority to determine whether the transfer should be effected, and that he did not exercise it in a constitutional manner, the Court found it enough that the order of the Secretary, which the Maritime Commission had continued in effect, had 'determined no rights and prescribed no duties' of the carrier. The rate order here is of a different sort and we face the question previously reserved. It is unnecessary now to pass on the efficacy of the transfer by Executive Order, for we are of opinion that as Congress itself had power to abolish the Shipping Board and to require its functions to be performed by the Secretary, it had power to recognize and validate his performance of those functions even though their attempted transfer by Executive Order was ineffectual.

It is well settled that Congress may, by enactment not otherwise inappropriate, 'ratify * * * acts which it

Page 302

might have authorized,' see Mattingly v. District of Columbia, 97 U.S. 687, 690, 24 L.Ed. 1098, and give the force of law to official action unauthorized when taken. Wilson v. Shaw, 204 U.S. 24, 32, 27 S.Ct. 233, 51 L.Ed. 351; United States v. Heinszen & Co., 206 U.S. 370, 382, 27 S.Ct. 742, 51 L.Ed. 1098, 11 Ann.Cas. 688; Hamilton v. Dillin, 21 Wall. 73, 96, 22 L.Ed. 528; Chuoco Tiaco v. Forbes, 228 U.S. 549, 556, 33 S.Ct. 585, 57 L.Ed. 960; Rafferty v. Smith, Bell & Co., 257 U.S. 226, 232, 42 S.Ct. 71, 66 L.Ed. 208; Charlotte Harbor R. Co. v. Welles, 260 U.S. 8, 11, 43 S.Ct. 3, 4, 67 L.Ed. 100; Hodges v. Snyder, 261 U.S. 600, 603, 43 S.Ct. 435, 436, 67 L.Ed. 819. And we think that Congress, irrespective of any doctrine of ratification, has, by the enactment of the statutes mentioned, in effect confirmed and approved the exercise by the Secretary of powers...

To continue reading

Request your trial
176 practice notes
  • Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Farr
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 30, 1965
    ...that doctrine creates no property rights. The Hickenlooper Amendment creates no new liabilities. See Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 57 S.Ct. 478, 81 L.Ed. 659 Here Congress has merely lifted a bar to consideration of pre-existing questions of substantive rights and liab......
  • Florida v. Becerra, CASE NO. 8:21-cv-839-SDM-AAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • June 18, 2021
    ...& Co., 206 U.S. 370, 384 (1907)), "and give the force of law to official action unauthorized when taken," Swayne & Hoyt v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 301-02 (1937). But Congress must speak clearly to expressly ratify agency action. Heinszen, 206 U.S. at 390. Here, Congress has not express......
  • Fay v. Merrill, SC 20486
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 11, 2021
    ...governor's actions but reaching issue as capable of repetition, yet evading review); see also Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 301-302, 57 S.Ct. 478, 81 L.Ed. 659 (1937) (‘‘[i]t is well settled that Congress may, by enactment not otherwise inappropriate, ratify . . . acts......
  • Zaber v. City of Dubuque, No. 07-1819 (Iowa 6/4/2010), No. 07-1819.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 4, 2010
    ...at 387, 27 S. Ct. at 747, 51 L. Ed. at 1104. Heinszen was followed by the Court's 1937 decision in Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 57 S. Ct. 478, 81 L. Ed. 659 (1937). In Swayne & Hoyt, steamship corporations challenged an order of the Secretary of Commerce canceling hig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
176 cases
  • Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Farr
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 30, 1965
    ...that doctrine creates no property rights. The Hickenlooper Amendment creates no new liabilities. See Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 57 S.Ct. 478, 81 L.Ed. 659 Here Congress has merely lifted a bar to consideration of pre-existing questions of substantive rights and liab......
  • Florida v. Becerra, CASE NO. 8:21-cv-839-SDM-AAS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • June 18, 2021
    ...& Co., 206 U.S. 370, 384 (1907)), "and give the force of law to official action unauthorized when taken," Swayne & Hoyt v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 301-02 (1937). But Congress must speak clearly to expressly ratify agency action. Heinszen, 206 U.S. at 390. Here, Congress has not express......
  • Fay v. Merrill, SC 20486
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 11, 2021
    ...governor's actions but reaching issue as capable of repetition, yet evading review); see also Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 301-302, 57 S.Ct. 478, 81 L.Ed. 659 (1937) (‘‘[i]t is well settled that Congress may, by enactment not otherwise inappropriate, ratify . . . acts......
  • Zaber v. City of Dubuque, No. 07-1819 (Iowa 6/4/2010), No. 07-1819.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 4, 2010
    ...at 387, 27 S. Ct. at 747, 51 L. Ed. at 1104. Heinszen was followed by the Court's 1937 decision in Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297, 57 S. Ct. 478, 81 L. Ed. 659 (1937). In Swayne & Hoyt, steamship corporations challenged an order of the Secretary of Commerce canceling hig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT