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Shreveport Rate Case


SHREVEPORT RATE CASE, officially known as Houston, East and West Texas Railway Company v. United States and Texas and Pacific Railway Co. v. United States 234 US 342 (1914), substantially increased federal control over interstate commerce. The case arose from a dispute between merchants in Shreveport, Louisiana, and several Texas railroad companies. At issue were freight rates set by the Texas Railroad Commission that were significantly higher for out-of-state merchants using Texas rail lines than for in-state companies. Encouraged by Progressive federal legislation such as the Hepburn Act (1906) and Mann-Elkins Act (1910), which had revitalized the Inter-state Commerce Commission (ICC), the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the Railroad Commission of Louisiana brought federal suits against two Texas railroad firms. Whereas the prosecutors argued that the lower Texas rates undercut interstate trade, railroad attorneys countered that the ICC lacked authority to control intra-state rates of interstate carriers. After losing in Federal Commerce Court, the railroad companies appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled by a vote of 7 to 2 that Congress through the ICC, not individual states, wielded final authority over interstate trade. Although criticized by some states' rights advocates, the ruling proved popular with both business interests and the general public.


Thompson, Alan S. "The Shreveport Rate Case." In Grassroots Constitutionalism: Shreveport, the South, and the Supreme Law of the Land. Edited by Norman W. Provizer and William D. Peterson. Lanham, N.Y.: University Press of America, 1988.

Thomas H.Cox

See alsoHepburn Act of 1906 ; Interstate Commerce Commission ; Railroad Rate Law .

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