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U.S. Supreme Court

Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Crovo, 220 U.S. 364 (1911)

Western Union Telegraph Company v. Crovo

Nos. 81, 87

Argued March 6, 7, 1911

Decided April 3, 1911

220 U.S. 364


Where the highest court of the state has refused a writ of error because it thought the judgment of the court below was right, the writ of error from this Court lies to the highest state court to which the case could be carried.

Telegraph companies whose lines extend from one state to another are engaged in interstate commerce, and messages passing from one state to another constitute such commerce, and companies and messages both fall under the regulating power of Congress.

While a state statute which amounts to a regulation of interstate commerce is void, one which simply imposes a penalty on a telegraph company for failure to perform a clear common law duty, such as transmitting messages without unreasonable delay, is, in the absence of legislation by Congress on that subject, a valid exercise of the power of the state if it relates to delay within the state even though the message be to a point without the state. Such a statute is neither a regulation of nor hindrance to interstate commerce, but is in aid thereof, and so held as to the statute of Virginia to that effect.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality, under the commerce clause, of a statute of Virginia requiring prompt transmission of messages by telegraph companies, are stated in the opinion.

Page 220 U. S. 366

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