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LOONEY v. EASTERN TEXAS RAILROAD COMPANY ET AL.

May 20, 1918

LOONEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL
v.
EASTERN TEXAS RAILROAD COMPANY ET AL.



APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke

Author: Clarke

[ 247 U.S. Page 215]

 MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the court.

This case presents for decision a motion by appellees to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction, and it involves the consideration of the latest chapter in a litigation which was commenced in 1911, when the Railroad Commission of Louisiana filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission a complaint charging various railroad companies with maintaining unreasonable rates on traffic from Shreveport, Louisiana, to points in Texas, and with maintaining rates which unjustly discriminated in favor of traffic moving wholly within the State of Texas as against that between Louisiana and Texas.

A hearing resulted in an order by the Commission, which was assailed by the railroad companies as invalid, but which this court sustained in Houston, East & West Texas Ry. Co. v. United States, 234 U.S. 342, in a decision rendered in 1913, which has come to be widely referred to as the " Shreveport Case."

After this decision there were further proceedings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, which resulted, on July 7, 1916, in the order out of which this litigation arose, which required many railroad companies, among other things,

"To establish, on or before November 1, 1916, . . . and thereafter to maintain and apply to the transportation of property between Shreveport, Louisiana, and points in the State of Texas, class rates and rates on the above-named [in the order] commodities not in excess of those contemporaneously applied by them for the transportation of like property for like distances between points in the State of Texas, except in those instances in which the rates between Texas points have been depressed

[ 247 U.S. Page 216]

     by reason of water competition along the Gulf of Mexico or waters contiguous thereto."

Immediately after this order was entered the Attorney General of Texas declared that it was void and that he would institute suits under the Texas laws for damages and penalties against any carrier which should comply with it. Thereupon the carriers filed a bill in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, in which they averred the validity of the order, the necessity for their obeying it, their intention to obey it, the threat of suits by the Attorney General, and, attaching a copy of the tariff they had compiled to comply with the order (designated as Texas Lines Tariff 2-B), they prayed for an injunction restraining the Attorney General from executing the threat which he had made. A temporary restraining order was granted and on November 1st, 1916, the tariffs were duly filed.

Issue was joined on this bill, and elaborate pleadings were filed by both parties, such that there can be no doubt that the Attorney General challenged the validity of the order as arbitrary, unreasonable, unsupported by the evidence and void, and especially as being inapplicable, in terms and for want of power, to the western part of Texas, which, for rate-making purposes, is designated "differential territory."

An application for a temporary injunction, on the issues thus joined, was heard on April 4, 1917, by three judges, and resulted in an order as prayed for. The court, in arriving at its announced conclusion, expressly disclaimed passing on the merits of the controversy, and granted the injunction because, as is variously stated in the opinions rendered, it deemed it necessary to prevent a multiplicity of destructive suits against the carriers; because the order of the Commission could not be ...


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