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decided: June 1, 1931.



Hughes, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts

Author: Brandeis

[ 283 U.S. Page 767]

 MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Rates on Chert, Clay, Sand, and Gravel Within State of Georgia, 122 I. C. C. 133, was a proceeding under § 13, paragraphs (3) and (4), of the Interstate Commerce Act 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.*fn1 Therein, the Interstate Commerce 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

[ 283 U.S. Page 768]

     believed "that the Georgia commission will cooperate 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.*fn2

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 re-open 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 re-open 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

[ 283 U.S. Page 769]

     lower, distance considered, than 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, 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 Comm. 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. Appellants contend that the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission is void, because it was entered without the full hearing prescribed by § 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. 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 consider anew

[ 283 U.S. 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 Comm. v. Aberdeen & Rockfish 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,*fn3 but no evidence was offered at the ...

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