SWAYNE & HOYT, LTD. V. UNITED STATES, 300 U. S. 297 (1937)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States, 300 U.S. 297 (1937)

Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States

No. 494

Argued February 11, 12, 1937

Decided March 1, 1937

300 U.S. 297


1. Acting under the Shipping Act and an Executive Order purporting to transfer the functions of the Shipping Board to the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary, after hearings, found that rates filed by a certain group of carriers were unduly prejudicial to shippers and other carriers and ordered their cancellation. Held that the

Page 300 U. S. 298

exercise of power, if initially unauthorized, was validated retroactively by Acts of Congress cited. Isbrandtsen-Moller Co. v. United States, ante, p. 300 U. S. 139. P. 300 U. S. 300.

2. In determining the validity of retroactive legislation, a distinction is drawn between bare attempts to create liability for transactions fully consummated and curative statutes designed to remedy, without injustice, mistakes and defects in administration of government. P. 300 U. S. 302.

3. The want of impairment of any substantial equity, the preservation of the right to an administrative hearing and judicial review, and the fact that the proceedings were conducted by the Secretary in the name of the United States deprive the validating statute of the elements of novelty and surprise which may condemn retroactive legislation. P. 300 U. S. 302.

4. Tariffs allowing reduced rates to shippers who agree to ship exclusively, and for a specified period, by vessels of the carriers offering such rates, are discriminatory, and are unlawful under § 16 of the Shipping Act if the discrimination is undue or unreasonable. P. 300 U. S. 303.

5. The Shipping Act, like the Interstate Commerce Act, sets up an administrative agency whose determinations of fact, on the basis of which orders are made, will not be set aside in the courts if there is evidence to support them. Whether a discrimination in rates or services of a carrier is undue or unreasonable is peculiarly a question committed to the judgment of the administrative body. P. 300 U. S. 303.

6. The evidence before the Secretary of Commerce in this case was enough to support his conclusions that the contract rate system here involved was not needed to assure stability of service, and that it tended to give the participating carriers a monopoly by excluding competition of new lines. P. 300 U. S. 305.

7. Though the evidence may support a different inference, this Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Secretary. P. 300 U. S. 307.

18 F.Supp. 25 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges dismissing the bill in a suit brought by intercoastal marine carriers to set aside an order of the Secretary of Commerce requiring the cancellation of certain rates.

Page 300 U. S. 299

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