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Opinion of the Court.
criminations or preferences that fall within the inhibition of the statute; only such as are unjust and unreasonable.”
Again, speaking of the sale of a ticket for a number of passengers at a less rate than for a single passenger, it was said: “ It does not operate to the prejudice of the single passenger, who cannot be said to be injured by the fact that another is able, in a particular instance, to travel at a less rate than he. If it operates injuriously to any one it is to the rival road, which has not adopted corresponding rates, but, as before observed, it was not the design of the act to stifle competition, nor is there any legal injustice in one person procuring a particular service cheaper than another.
If these tickets were withdrawn the defendant road would lose a large amount of travel, and the single-trip passenger would gain absolutely nothing."
The conclusions that we draw from the history and language of the act, and from the decisions of our own and the English courts, are mainly these: That the purpose of the act is to promote and facilitate commerce by the adoption of regulations to make charges for transportation just and reasonable, and to forbid undue and unreasonable preferences or discriminations: That, in passing upon questions arising under the act, the tribunal appointed to enforce its provisions, whether the Commission or the courts, is empowered to fully consider all the circumstances and conditions that reasonably apply to the situation, and that, in the exercise of its jurisdiction, the tribunal may and should consider the legitimate interests as well of the carrying companies as of the traders and shippers, and in considering whether any particular locality is subjected to an undue preference or disadvantage the welfare of the communities occupying the localities where the goods are delivered is to be considered as well as that of the communities which are in the locality of the place of shipment: That among the circumstances and conditions to be considered, as well in the case of traffic originating in foreign ports as in the case of traffic originating within the limits of the United States, competition that affects rates should be considered, and in deciding whether rates and charges made at
Opinion of the Court.
a low rate to secure foreign freights which would otherwise go by other competitive routes are or are not undue and unjust, the fair interests of the carrier companies and the welfare of the community which is to receive and consume the commodities are to be considered : That if the Commission, instead of confining its action to redressing, on complaint made by some particular person, firm, corporation or locality, some specific disregard by common carriers of provisions of the act, proposes to promulgate general orders, which thereby become rules of action to the carrying companies, the spirit and letter of the act require that such orders should have in view the purpose of promoting and facilitating commerce, and the welfare of all to be affected, as well the carriers as the traders and consumers of the country.
It may be said that it would be impossible for the Commission to frame a general order if it were necessary to enter upon so wide a field of investigation, and if all interests that are liable to be affected were to be considered. This criticism, if well founded, would go to show that such orders are instances of general legislation, requiring an exercise of the law-making power, and that the general orders made by the Commission in March, 1889, and January, 1891, instead of being regulations calculated to promote commerce and enforce the express provisions of the act, are themselves laws of wide import, destroying some branches of commerce that have long existed, and undertaking to change the laws and customs of transportation in the promotion of what is supposed to be public policy.
This is manifest from the facts furnished us in the report and findings of the Commission, attached as an exhibit to the bill filed in the Circuit Court.
It is stated in that report that the Illinois Central Railroad Company, one of the respondents in the proceeding before the Commission, averred in its answer that it was constrained, by its obedience to the order of March, 1889, to decline to take for shipment any import traffic, and, to its great detriment, to refrain from the business, for the reason that to meet the action of the competing lines it would have to make a less rate on the import than on the domestic traffic.
Opinion of the Court.
Upon this disclosure that their order had resulted in depriving that company of a valuable part of its traffic (to say nothing of its necessary effect in increasing the charges to be finally paid by the consumers), the Commission in its report naively remarks: “This lets the Illinois Central Railway Company out.” 4 Interstate Com. Com. Rep. 458.
We also learn from the same source that there was competent evidence adduced before the Commission, on the part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, that since that company, in obedience to the order of March, 1889, has charged the full inland rate on the import traffic, the road's business in that particular has considerably fallen off - that the steamship lines have never assented to the road's charging its full inland rates, and have been making demands on the road for a proper division of the through rate — that if it were definitely determined that the road was not at liberty to charge less than the full inland rate, the result would be that it would effectually close every steamship line sailing to and from Baltimore and Philadelphia.
The Commission did not find it necessary to consider this evidence, because the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was before it in the attitude of having obeyed the order.
We do not refer to these matters for the purpose of indicating what conclusions ought to have been reached by the Commission or by the courts below in respect to what were proper rates to be charged by the Texas and Pacific Railway Company. That was a question of fact, and if the inquiry had been conducted on a proper basis we should not have felt inclined to review conclusions so reached. But we mention them to show that there manifestly was error in excluding facts and circumstances that ought to have been considered, and that this error arose out of a misconception of the purpose and meaning of the act.
The Circuit Court held that the order of January 29, 1891, was a lawful order, and enjoined the defendant company from carrying any article of import traffic shipped from any foreign port through any port of entry in the United States, or any port of entry in a foreign country adjacent to the United
Opinion of the Court.
States, upon through bills of lading, and destined to any place within the United States, upon any other than the published inland tariff covering the transportation of other freight of like kind over its line from such port of entry to such place of destination, or from charging or accepting for its share of through rates upon imported traffic a lower sum than it charges or receives for domestic traffic of like kind to the same destination from the point at which the imported traffic enters the country.
In treating the facts of the case the court says: “It must be conceded as true, for the purposes of the present case, that the rates for the transportation of traffic from Liverpool and London to San Francisco are, in effect, fixed and controlled by the competition of sailing vessels between these ports, and also by the competition of steamships and sailing vessels in connection with railroads across the Isthmus of Panama, none of which are in any respect subject to the act to regulate com
It must also be conceded that the favorable rates given to the foreign traffic are, for reasons to which it is now unnecessary to revert, somewhat remunerative to the defendant; and it must also be conceded that the defendant would lose the foreign traffic, by reason of the competition referred to, and the revenue derived therefrom, unless it carries at the lower rates, and by so doing is enabled to get part of it, which would otherwise go from London and Liverpool to San Francisco around the Horn or by the way of the Isthmus.” Interstate Commerce Commission v. Texas & Pacific Railway, 52 Fed. Rep. 187.
The Circuit Court did not discuss the case at length, either as to its law or facts, but, in effect, approved the order of January 29, 1891, as valid, and enjoined the defendant company from disregarding it.
The Circuit Court of Appeals seems to have disapproved of the construction put on the act by the Commission. The language of the court was as follows: “The Commission contended that the defendant had violated the second section of the act to regulate commerce, which prohibits unjust discrimination in the compensation charged for like and contempo
Opinion of the Court.
raneous service in the transportation of a like kind of traffic under substantially similar circumstances and conditions, and had also violated the third section, which prohibits any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular description of traffic. The defendant insisted that the dis. similar conditions growing out of the ocean competition freed its conduct from the prohibition of the statute. The Commission held that this class of dissimilar conditions was not in the contemplation of the statute, and was not to be regarded in the regulation of inland tariffs of rates.” Then, after citing a passage from the report of the Commission, the court proceeds to say: "Its conclusion was that foreign and home merchandise under the operation of the statute, when handled and transferred by interstate carriers engaged in carriage in the United States, stand exactly upon the same basis of equality as to tolls, charges, and treatment for similar services rendered.' This rule, having been founded upon a construction of the statute, is a very broad one. It is applicable to all the foreign circumstances and conditions which affect rates, and the question whether it must be universally applied without regard to any circumstances which may exist in a foreign country, and whether dissimilarities which have a foreign origin are to be excluded from consideration under the operation of the statute, is an exceedingly important one, the ultimate decision of which may have a wider influence upon the interstate commerce of the country than we can foresee. This legal question was not discussed in the export rate case, which was treated 'as one of practical policy.' We are not disposed to pass authoritatively upon this question, except in a case which demands it, and in which the effect of this construction of the statute is naturally the subject of discussion.” 20 U. S. App. 6–9.
Having thus intimated its dissent from, or, at least, its distrust of, the view of the Commission, the court proceeded to affirm the decree of the Circuit Court and the validity of the order of the Commission, upon the ground that, even if ocean competition should be regarded as creating a dissimilar condition, yet that, in the present case, the disparity in rates was too great to be justified by that condition.