NEW YORK, N.H. & HARTFORD R. CO. V. ICC, 200 U. S. 361 (1906)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York, N.H. & Hartford R. Co. v. ICC, 200 U.S. 361 (1906)

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company

v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Nos. 24, 27

Argued October 25-26, 1905

Decided February 1, 1906

200 U.S. 361


A carrier, not expressly authorized so to do by charter obtained prior to the Interstate Commerce Act, cannot contract to sell, and to transport in completion of the contract the commodity sold when the stipulated price does not pay the cost of purchase, the cost of delivery, and the published freight rates.

The Interstate Commerce Act was enacted to secure equality of rates and to destroy favoritism, and for those purposes is a remedial statute, to be interpreted so as to reasonably accomplish them; its prohibitions against directly or indirectly charging less than published rates are all-embracing and applicable to every method by which the forbidden results could be brought about.

Where a contract of a carrier for sale and transportation is illegal under the Interstate Commerce Act because the amount charged for transportation is less than the published rates, the contract is not made legal because the carrier is also released by the same shipper from a claim, admitted by the carrier and amounting to more than the difference between the published rate and the amount charged, for breach of a prior contract, where it appears that such prior contract was also illegal for the same reason.

Whatever powers a carrier may possess as to its commerce not interstate, it is subject as to its interstate commerce to the Interstate Commerce Act, the application of whose prohibitions depends not upon whether the carrier intends to violate them, but upon whether it actually does so.

Congress has undoubted power to subject to regulations adopted by it every carrier engaged in interstate commerce, and although the Interstate Commerce Act may not contain an express prohibition against a carrier's becoming a dealer in commodities transported by it, the court will enforce the general provisions of the act although in so doing it may render it impossible for a carrier to deal in such commodities.

While the construction of a statute by a body charged with its enforcement which has long obtained, and which has been impliedly sanctioned by the reenactment of the statute without alteration, must be treated, when not

Page 200 U. S. 362

plainly erroneous, as read into the statute, the binding force of such construction on the court is restricted to the precise condition passed on, and a ruling by the Interstate Commerce Commission as to the right of a carrier, possessing charter rights granted prior to the passage of the act, to also be a vendor is not applicable to the case of a carrier which does not possess such rights.

Where a carrier has violated the provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act in a particular matter in regard to a particular commodity, the court may perpetually enjoin it from further violations of that act by the means employed and as to that commodity, but should not enjoin the carrier in general terms not to violate the act in any particular.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 200 U. S. 381

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