ALABAMA COMM'N V. SOUTHERN R. CO., 341 U. S. 341 (1951)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Alabama Comm'n v. Southern R. Co., 341 U.S. 341 (1951)

Alabama Public Service Commission v. Southern Railway Co.

No. 395

Argued February 27-28, 1951

Decided May 21, 1951

341 U.S. 341


Appellee applied to the Alabama Public Service Commission for a permit to discontinue certain local intrastate trains, on the ground that they were operating at a loss. After a hearing, the Commission found that there was public need for the service, and entered an order denying the permit. Without applying to a state court for the adequate judicial review to which it was entitled as a matter of right under state law, appellee sued in a federal court to enjoin enforcement of the Commission's order. It alleged that its enforcement would result in irreparable injury, either through operating losses resulting from compliance or through severe penalties for violations.

Held: assuming that the federal court had jurisdiction, such jurisdiction should not be exercised in this case as a matter of sound equitable discretion. Pp. 341 U. S. 342-351.

(a) The problems raised by the discontinuance of these trains cannot be resolved alone by reference to appellee's loss in their operation, but depend more upon the predominantly local factor of public need for the service rendered. P. 341 U. S. 347.

(b) Since adequate state court review of an administrative order based on predominantly local factors is available to appellee, intervention of a federal court is not necessary for the protection of federal rights. P. 341 U. S. 349.

(c) In these circumstances, under the usual rule of comity governing the exercise of equitable jurisdiction by federal courts in matters affecting the domestic policies of the states, appellee should be left to pursue through the state courts whatever rights it may have. P. 341 U. S. 350.

91 F.Supp. 980, reversed.

In a suit by a railroad, a three-judge federal district court enjoined enforcement of an order of the Alabama Public Service Commission. 91 F.Supp. 980. On appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1253, reversed, p. 341 U. S. 351.

Page 341 U. S. 342

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