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U.S. Supreme Court

Corporation Commission of Oklahoma v. Lowe, 281 U.S. 431 (1930)

Corporation Commission of Oklahoma v. Lowe

No. 454

Argued April 29, 1930

Decided May 19, 1930

281 U.S. 431


1. One who attacks a state law under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment must show clearly that it creates against him the discrimination complained of. P. 281 U. S. 438.

2. It is to be presumed that the state, in enforcing its local policies, will conform to the requirements of federal guaranties, and doubts on this point are to be resolved in favor of the state. Id.

3. An individual, licensed to operate cotton gins in Oklahoma, sought to enjoin a state commission from issuing to a farmers' cooperative company a license to gin cotton in his locality, claiming that, inasmuch as the cotton-ginning business is regulated by Oklahoma as a public utility, including the rates chargeable, he would be inhibited from reducing his rates indirectly by returning any part of his earnings to his customers, whereas the company, in virtue of the Act under which it was incorporated, was expressly authorized to distribute a portion of its net earnings among those who would deal with it, whether cooperative members or not, in proportion to their dealings, and would thus be allowed an unreasonable, discriminatory advantage in the same line of competitive business, contrary to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Held that, as the plaintiff adduced no law or regulation of the state denying him the privilege of distributing net earnings to patrons upon the basis and in a manner similar to that allowed to the corporation, and as the counsel for the Commission stated at the oral argument that he knew of no such law or regulation, the statute with respect to distribution of net earnings must be regarded as a declaration that such a distribution among patrons of cotton gins is in accord with the policy of the state, and, until the contrary appears, it must be assumed that, in giving effect to such policy, the state will not permit injurious and unreasonable

Page 281 U. S. 432

discrimination, leaving to the plaintiff his appropriate remedy if discrimination should be practiced in the future. P. 281 U. S. 437.


Appeal from a decree of the district court permanently enjoining the Corporation Commission from granting a cotton-ginning license.

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