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OMAHA & COUNCIL BLUFFS STREET RAILWAY COMPANY v. INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION

June 9, 1913

OMAHA & COUNCIL BLUFFS STREET RAILWAY COMPANY
v.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COMMERCE COURT

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Lurton, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar; Pitney did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of this case.

Author: Lamar

[ 230 U.S. Page 332]

 MR. JUSTICE LAMAR delivered the opinion of the court.

The Omaha & Council Bluffs Railway & Bridge Company was chartered as a Street Railroad Company under the laws of Iowa. It owned street car lines in Council Bluffs and, in 1887, was authorized by Congress to construct a bridge across the Missouri River and to operate thereon "steam, cable and street cars." (March 3, 1887, 24 Stat. 501, c. 356.) The Omaha & Council Bluffs Railway, chartered as a Street Railroad under the laws of Nebraska, owned the street car lines in Omaha and its suburbs, South Omaha, Benson, Dundee and Florence. This street railroad had no right of eminent domain and was not authorized to haul freight, being limited by its charter to carrying passengers only. By lease it acquired

[ 230 U.S. Page 333]

     the bridge and car lines in Council Bluffs which thereafter it operated as part of its system. Complaint having been made that certain interstate fares were unreasonable, a hearing was had before the Commerce Commission, which, on November 27, 1909 (17 I.C.C. 239), ordered a reduction in the rate between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and points beyond the Loop, in Omaha, Nebraska. The two companies, lessor and lessee, thereupon filed a bill in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Nebraska to enjoin the order. The case was heard before three Circuit Judges, who (179 Fed. Rep. 243) granted a temporary injunction.

The case was transferred to the Commerce Court, which, on October 5, 1911, dismissed the bill, 191 Fed. Rep. 40.

On the argument of the appeal in this court, the sole question discussed was whether the provisions of the Commerce Act as to railroads applied to street railroads, the appellant relying, among other things, on the fact that during the discussion in the Senate the author of the bill and Chairman of the Senate Committee to which it had been referred, said (17 Cong. Rec. Pt. IV, p. 3472) "that the Bill is not intended to affect the stage coach, the street railway, the telegraph lines, the canal boat, or the vessel employed in the inland or coasting trade, even though they may be engaged in interstate commerce, because it is not deemed necessary or practicable to cover such a multitude of subjects." After quoting ยง 1*fn1 and this statement and construing it in the light of the broad scope of the act, the Commerce Court held that the meaning of the statute could not be determined from statements used in debate. We concur in that view. The act must

[ 230 U.S. Page 334]

     be interpreted by its own terms, and we must look to it as a whole, in order to determine whether it applies to Street Railroads, carrying passengers between cities divided by a state line.

The statute in terms applies to carriers engaged in the transportation of passengers or property by railroad.

But, in 1887, that word had no fixed and accurate meaning, for there was then, as ...


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