CASE V. BOWLES, 327 U. S. 92 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Case v. Bowles, 327 U.S. 92 (1946)

Case v. Bowles

No. 261

Argued January 10, 1946

Decided February 4, 1946

327 U.S. 92


1. The Emergency Price Control Act applies to the sale by the Washington of timber growing on lands granted by Congress to the State "for the support of common schools," notwithstanding a provision in the Enabling Act providing that these lands shall "be disposed of only at public sale, and at a price not less than" $10 per acre and a provision of the state constitution that these lands shall not be sold except "at public auction to the highest bidder" at a price not less than the full market value found after appraisal or "the price prescribed in the grant" of these lands. P. 327 U. S. 98.

2. The Emergency Price Control Act applies generally to sales of commodities by the States. P. 327 U. S. 98.

(a) The definition in § 302(h) making the Act applicable to the United States "or any other government, or any of its political subdivisions, or any agency of the foregoing," clearly is broad enough to include the States. P. 327 U. S. 98.

Page 327 U. S. 93

(b) It would frustrate the purposes of the Act for the courts to read exemptions into it which Congress did not see fit to put in the language, since excessive prices for rents or commodities charged by a State would produce exactly the same conditions as would be produced were these prices charged by others. P. 327 U. S. 99.

3. A special exemption cannot be read into the Act in order to permit States holding land granted for school purposes to charge more than the ceiling price set for timber. P. 327 U. S. 100.

While congressional grants of land to the States for school purposes transferred exclusive ownership and control over those lands to the States, no part of all the history concerning these grants indicates a purpose on the part of Congress to enter into a permanent agreement with the States under which they would be free to use the lands in a manner which would conflict with valid legislation enacted by Congress in the national interest. P. 327 U. S. 100.

4. As thus construed, the Act is constitutional. P. 327 U. S. 100.

(a) While the State does have power to own and control the school lands here involved and to sell the lands or the timber growing on them, this power is subordinate to the power of Congress to fix maximum prices in order to carry on war. P. 327 U. S. 101.

(b) To hold otherwise would impair the constitutional grant of power to make war, which was a prime purpose of the Federal Government's establishment. P. 327 U. S. 102.

(c) The Tenth Amendment does not operate as a limitation upon the powers, express or implied, delegated to the National Government. P. 327 U. S. 102.

5. Section 201(a) of the Emergency Price Control Act specifically empowers the Price Administrator to commence suits to enjoin violations of that Act and authorizes attorneys employed by him to represent him in such suits. Therefore, 28 U.S.C. § 485, making it the duty of district attorneys to prosecute most civil actions to which the United States is a party, is not applicable to such proceedings. P. 327 U. S. 96.

6. Where the complaint in a suit against a state officer to enjoin violations of the Emergency Price Control Act does not challenge the constitutionality of the state statute, but merely alleges that its enforcement would violate the Emergency Price Control Act, § 266 of the Judicial Code does not require that the case be tried by a three-judge court. P. 327 U. S. 97.

7. Neither Art. III, § 2, cl. 2, of the Constitution, giving this Court original jurisdiction of all cases in which a State is a party, nor

Page 327 U. S. 94

§ 233 of the Judicial Code, giving this Court exclusive jurisdiction to try cases between a State and the United States, prevents a district court from having jurisdiction to try suits to enjoin state officers from violating the Emergency Price Control Act. P. 327 U. S. 97.

(a) Consistently with Art. III of the Constitution, Congress can give the district courts jurisdiction to try controversies between a State and the United States. P. 327 U. S. 97.

(b) Section 205(c) of the Emergency Price Control Act specifically gives the district courts jurisdiction over all enforcement suits, and supersedes § 233 of the Judicial Code to that extent. P. 327 U. S. 97.

8. While the Emergency Price Control Act denies a defendant in an enforcement proceeding the right to challenge the validity of the regulation sought to be enforced (since exclusive initial jurisdiction to determine this question is vested in the Emergency Court of Appeals), it does not deny him the right to attack the Act itself on constitutional grounds. P. 327 U. S. 98.

9. In reviewing a judgment in an enforcement proceeding, this Court ordinarily would not pass on the statutory authority of the Price Administrator to promulgate a regulation, since Congress has granted exclusive initial jurisdiction to determine that question to the Emergency Court of Appeals. P. 327 U. S. 98.

10. It will do so, however, where the right of Congress to regulate certain prices is challenged on constitutional grounds, if it is not a device to attack the regulations indirectly. P. 327 U. S. 98.

149 F.2d 777 affirmed.

After litigation instituted in a state court by the bidders for certain timber on school lands of the Washington had resulted in a holding by the state supreme court that the Emergency Price Control Act did not bar the sale of school land timber at a price above the ceiling fixed pursuant to that Act, Soundview. Pulp Co. v. Taylor, 21 Wash.2d 261, the Price Administrator instituted suit in a federal district court to enjoin the State Commissioner of Public Lands and the successful bidder at a public auction from completing a sale of school land timber at a price above the ceiling fixed by Maximum Price Regulation No. 460, 8 Fed.Reg. 11850, as amended, 8 Fed.Reg. 13023. The district court denied the injunction and dismissed the complaint. The circuit court of

Page 327 U. S. 95

appeals reversed. 149 F.2d 777. This Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 706. Affirmed, p. 327 U. S. 103.

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