ALABAMA POWER CO. V. ICKES, 302 U. S. 464 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes, 302 U.S. 464 (1938)

Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes

Nos. 84 and 85

Argued December 6, 7, 1937

Decided January 3, 1938

302 U.S. 464


1. An electric power company, operating in Alabama under a nonexclusive franchise, sued to enjoin the performance of agreements whereby a federal official purporting to act under Title II of the National Industrial Recovery Act, as amended, undertook on behalf of the United States to make loans and grants of money to several Alabama municipalities to assist each of them, respectively, in constructing an electrical distribution system within its municipal limits. Held that the company had no standing to question the validity of the loans and grants under the federal statute, or the validity of the statute in that regard under the Federal Constitution, since the only damage threatening the company was the damage of lawful competition -- damnum absque injuria. Pp. 302 U. S. 478-479.

According to the findings in the cases, each of the municipalities had authority to construct and operate its proposed plant and distribution system in competition with the company, and to borrow money for that purpose, and had determined to do so of its own free will; no conspiracy was involved, nor any desire to cause injury or financial loss to the company, nor purpose to regulate rates or foster municipal ownership of utilities. Neither the United States nor any of the respondent officers had reserved any right to require an elimination of competition or designate any agency from which the municipality must purchase its power. Each municipality was left entirely free from federal control or direction in respect of the management and control of its plant and business.

2. Findings of the District Court, made after hearing, supported by substantial evidence, and not questioned by the intermediate appellate court, held unassailable in this Court. P. 302 U. S. 477.

3. The interest of a taxpayer in the moneys of the federal treasury affords him no status to enjoin expenditures upon the ground that they are for an unconstitutional purpose. P. 302 U. S. 478.

Page 302 U. S. 465

4. Courts have no power to enjoin the execution of an Act of Congress upon the Ground of unconstitutionality where no wrong directly resulting in the violation of a legal right is presented in a justiciable issue. P. 302 U. S. 479.

67 App.D.C. 230, 91 F.2d 303, affirmed.

Certiorari, 301 U.S. 681, to review decrees affirming the dismissal of bills brought against the Emergency Public Works Administrator and other Government officials to restrain the making of loans and grants of money to certain municipalities in Alabama, in aid of the construction of municipal light and power plants. These cases were consolidated and tried with others which later became moot. No. 84 also became moot insofar as it related to three of the municipalities originally named in the bill. The opinion of the District Court is in LXIV Wash.L.Rep. 563.

Page 302 U. S. 473

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