Wisconsin Railroad Commission v. Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company
WISCONSIN RAILROAD COMMISSION V. CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD COMPANY
WISCONSIN RAILROAD COMMISSION V. CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD COMPANY, 257 U.S. 563 (1922). Congress, by the provisions of the Transportation Act of 1920—which returned the railroads to private ownership—undertook to guarantee the railways "a fair return upon a fair valuation." Previously, the Wisconsin Railroad Commission had entered into an agreement with the defendant railroad, by which intrastate transportation of persons was to be provided at the rate of 2 cents a mile. After the passage of the federal act, the state commission sought to continue the agreement. The railway contended that, at such a rate, it could not earn the fair return contemplated in the law. The Supreme Court accepted this view and emphasized the fact that the Interstate Commerce Commission, under the Transportation Act of 1920, had valid power and the duty to raise the level of intrastate rates when such rates were so low as to discriminate against interstate commerce and unduly to burden it. This decision—together with the similar and companion case of New York v. New York Central Railroad Company—was the last step in a process by which the decisions in the earliest railroad rate cases were completely reversed.
Hoogenboom, Ari, and Olive Hoogenboom. A History of the ICC: From Panacea to Palliative. New York: Norton, 1976.
W. BrookeGraves/a. r.
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