Commerce Court

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In 1910 Congress established the Commerce Court, with the jurisdiction, formerly held by the district courts and courts of appeals, to review decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Although the ICC acquiesced in the establishment of the new court, acceptance soon turned to opposition. The Commerce Court reversed the ICC's decisions in a number of important cases, and congressional Democrats saw the court as a threat to the program of railroad regulation. Two 1912 bills to abolish the court were vetoed by President william howard taft. In 1913, a third abolition bill received President woodrow wilson's blessing.

The creation of specialized federal courts is often proposed but not often enacted. The short, unhappy life of the Commerce Court is regularly offered as a cautionary tale.

Kenneth L. Karst


Dix, George E. 1964 The Death of the Commerce Court: A Study in Institutional Weakness. American Journal of Legal History 8:238–260.

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Commerce Court

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