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interstate carriers by railroad to their employés injured in such commerce"; in Michigan Central R. R. Co. v. Vreeland, 227 U. S. 59, 66, 67, it is said that "we may not piece out this act of Congress by resorting to the local statutes of the State of procedure or that of the injury," that by it "Congress has undertaken to cover the subject of the liability of railroad companies to their employés injured while engaged in interstate commerce," and that it is "paramount and exclusive"; in North Carolina R. R. Co. v. Zachary, 232 U. S. 248, 256, it is held that where it appears that the injury occurred while the carrier was engaged and the employee employed in interstate commerce the federal act governs to the exclusion of the state law; in Seaboard Air Line Ry. v. Horton, supra, pp. 501, 503, it is said not only that Congress intended "to exclude responsibility of the carrier to its employés" in the absence of negligence, but that it is not conceivable that Congress "intended to permit the legislatures of the several States to determine the effect of contributory negligence and assumption of risk, by enacting statutes for the safety of employés, since this would in effect relegate to state control two of the essential factors that determine the responsibility of the employer;" and in Wabash R. R. Co. v. Hayes, 234 U. S. 86, 89, it is said: "Had the injury occurred in interstate commerce, as was alleged, the Federal act undoubtedly would have been controlling and a recovery could not have been had under the common or statute law of the State; in other words, the Federal act would have been exclusive in its operation, not merely cumulative [citing cases]. On the other hand, if the injury occurred outside of interstate commerce, the Federal act was without application and the law of the State was controlling."
The act is entitled, "An Act Relating to the liability of common carriers by railroad to their employees in certain cases," and the suggestion is made that the words "in
certain cases" require that the act be restrictively construed. But we think these words are intended to do no more than to bring the title into reasonable accord with the body of the act, which discloses in exact terms that it is not to embrace all cases of injury to the employees of such carriers, but only such as occur while the carrier is engaging and the employee is employed in "commerce between any of the several States," etc. See Employers' Liability Cases, 207 U. S. 463.
Only by disturbing the uniformity which the act is designed to secure and by departing from the principle which it is intended to enforce can the several States require such carriers to compensate their employees for injuries in interstate commerce occurring without negligence. But no State is at liberty thus to interfere with the operation of a law of Congress. As before indicated, it is a mistake to suppose that injuries occurring without negligence are not reached or affected by the act, for, as is said in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Pet. 539, 617, "if Congress have a constitutional power to regulate a particular subject, and they do actually regulate it in a given manner, and in a certain form, it cannot be that the state legislatures have a right to interfere, and, as it were, by way of complement to the legislation of Congress, to prescribe additional regulations, and what they may deem auxiliary provisions for the same purpose. In such a case, the legislation of Congress, in what it does prescribe, manifestly indicates that it does not intend that there shall be any farther legislation to act upon the subject-matter. Its silence as to what it does not do, is as expressive of what its intention is as the direct provisions made by it." Thus the act is as comprehensive of injuries occurring without negligence, as to which class it impliedly excludes liability, as it is of those as to which it imposes liability. In other words, it is a regulation of the carriers' duty or obligation as to both. And the reasons which operate to prevent the
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States from dispensing with compensation where the act requires it equally prevent them from requiring compensation where the act withholds or excludes it.
It follows that in the present case the award under the state law cannot be sustained.
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS, dissenting.
I dissent from the opinion of the court; and the importance of the question involved induces me to state the
By the Employers' Liability Act of April 22, 1908, Congress provided, in substance, that railroads engaged in interstate commerce shall be liable in damages for their negligence resulting in injury or death of employees while so engaged. The majority of the court now holds that by so doing Congress manifested its will to cover the whole field of compensation or relief for injuries suffered by railroad employees engaged in interstate commerce; or, at least, the whole field of obligation of carriers relating thereto; and that it thereby withdrew the subject wholly from the domain of state action. In other words the majority of the court declares, that Congress by passing the Employers' Liability Act prohibited States from including within the protection of their general Workmen's Compensation Laws employees who without fault on the railroad's part are injured or killed while engaged in interstate commerce; although Congress itself offered them no protection. That Congress could have done this is clear. The question presented is: Has Congress done so? Has Congress so willed?
The Workmen's Compensation Law of New York here in question has been declared by this court to be among those which "bear so close a relation to the protection of the lives and safety of those concerned that they properly
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BRANDEIS, J., dissenting.
may be regarded as coming within the category of police regulations." New York Central R. R. Co. v. White, 243 U. S. 188, 207. And this court has definitely formulated the rules which should govern in determining when a federal statute regulating commerce will be held to supersede state legislation in the exercise of the police power. These rules are:
1. "In conferring upon Congress the regulation of commerce, it was never intended to cut the States off from legislating on all subjects relating to the health, life, and safety of their citizens, though the legislation might indirectly affect the commerce of the country." Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U. S. 99, 103.
2. "If the purpose of the act cannot otherwise be accomplished-if its operation within its chosen field else must be frustrated and its provisions be refused their natural effect-the state law must yield to regulation of Congress within the sphere of its delegated power.
"But the intent to supersede the exercise by the State of its police power as to matters not covered by the Federal legislation is not to be inferred from the mere fact that Congress has seen fit to circumscribe its regulation and to occupy a limited field. In other words, such intent is not to be implied unless the act of Congress fairly interpreted is in actual conflict with the law of the State." Savage v. Jones, 225 U. S. 501, 533.
3. "The question must of course be determined with reference to the settled rule that a statute enacted in execution of a reserved power of the State is not to be regarded as inconsistent with an act of Congress passed in the execution of a clear power under the Constitution, unless the repugnance or conflict is so direct and positive that the two acts cannot be reconciled or stand together." Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Haber, 169 U. S. 613, 623.
Guided by these rules and the cases in which they have
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been applied 1 we endeavor to determine whether Congress in enacting the Employers' Liability Act intended
1 The following cases show that Congress, in legislating upon a particular subject of interstate commerce, will not be held to have inhibited by implication the exercise by the States of their reserved police power, unless such state action would actually frustrate or impair the intended operation of the federal legislation.
1. In Sligh v. Kirkwood, 237 U. S. 52, 62, it was held that the Federal Food and Drugs Act, dealing, among other things with shipment in interstate commerce of fruit in filthy, decomposed, or putrid condition, did not prevent a State from penalizing the shipment of citrus fruits “which are immature or otherwise unfit for consumption."
2. In Atlantic Coast Line R. R. Co. v. Georgia, 234 U. S. 280, 293, it was held that Congress did not, by the passage of the Federal Safety Appliance Acts, dealing with the equipment of locomotives, as well as of cars, and the Act to Regulate Commerce, preclude the States from legislating concerning locomotive headlights, as to which Congress had not specifically acted.
3. In Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harris, 234 U. S. 412, 420, it was held that the Carmack Amendment (34 Stat. 584, 595), regulating the carrier's liability for loss of interstate shipments, did not prevent a State from providing for the allowance of a moderate attorney's fee in a statute applicable both in the case of interstate and intrastate shipments.
4. In Savage v. Jones, 225 U. S. 501, 529, it was held that the passage by Congress of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, which, among other things, prohibited misbranding, did not prevent the States from regulating the sale and requiring to be affixed a statement of ingredients and minimum percentage of fat and proteins.
5. In Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Larabee Flour Mills Co., 211 U. S. 612, 623, it was held that Congress, by granting, in the Act to Regulate Commerce, power to the Interstate Commerce Commission to compel equal switching service on cars destined to interstate commerce, did not, in the absence of the exercise by the Commission of its power, prohibit States from legislating on the subject.
6. In Asbell v. Kansas, 209 U. S. 251, 257, it was held that Congress, in providing that a certificate of inspection issued by the National Bureau of Animal Industry should entitle cattle to be shipped into any State without further inspection, did not prevent a State from penalizing the importation of cattle which had not been inspected either by the federal bureau or by designated state officials.