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amended, are authorized to be maintained in a circuit court of the United States.
“Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as enlarging the jurisdiction now possessed by the circuit courts of the United States or the judges thereof, that is hereby transferred to and yested in the Commerce Court.
“The jurisdiction of the Commerce Court over cases of the foregoing classes shall be exclusive; but this chapter shall not affect the jurisdiction possessed by any circuit or district court of the United States over cases or proceedings of a kind not within the above-enumerated classes."
The question to be decided is this: Does the authority with which the Commerce Court is clothed in virtue of these provisions invest that body with jurisdiction to redress complaints based exclusively upon the conception that the Interstate Commerce Commission, in a matter submitted to its judgment and within its competency to consider, has mistakenly refused, upon the ground that no right to the relief claimed was given by the act to regulate commerce, to award the relief which was claimed at its hands? In other words, the important question is, Is the authority of the Commerce Court confined to enforcing or restraining, as the case may require, affirmative orders of the Commission, or has it the power to exert its own judgment by originally interpreting the administrative features of the act to regulate commerce and upon that assumption treat a refusal of the Commission to grant relief as an affirmative order and accordingly pass on its correctness?
Turning for the elucidation of the question to the juris-, dictional provisions, it is plain that although all of the four numbered subdivisions composing the section may serve to throw light upon the issue for decision the solution of the question must intrinsically be found in a correct interpretation of the second subdivision. We say this because clearly the first deals alone with cases for the en
forcement of orders of the Commission as therein described; the third deals only with cases brought under the act of February 19, 1903, which is wholly foreign to the subject here reviewed, since the act referred to relateonly to proceedings to enjoin either discriminations or departures by carriers from their published rates, and the fourth refers exclusively to the right to mandamus conformably to $ 20 or 23 of the act to regulate commerce, which sections are concerned with the performance of certain duties imposed upon carriers by the act to regulate commerce. The words of this second subdivision are: “Second. Cases brought to enjoin, set aside, annul, or suspend in whole or in part any order of the Interstate Commerce Commission."
Giving to these words their natural significance we think it follows that they confer jurisdiction only to entertain complaints as to affirmative orders of the Commission; that is, they give the court the right to take cognizance when properly made of complaints concerning the legality of orders, rendered by the Commission and confer power to relieve parties in whole or in part from the duty of obedience to orders which are found to be illegal. No resort to exposition can add to the cogency with which the conclusion stated is compelled by the plain meaning of the words themselves. But if it be conceded for the sake of argument that the language of the provision is ambiguous a consideration of the context of the act will at once clarify the subject. Thus, the first subdivision provides for the enforcement of orders, that is, the compelling of the doing or abstaining from doing of acts embraced by a previous affirmative command of the Commission, and the second (the one with which we are concerned) dealing with the same subject from a reverse point of view, provides for the contingency of a complaint made to the court by one seeking to prevent the enforcement of orders of the Commission such as are contemplated by
the first paragraph. In other words, by the cooperation of the two paragraphs, authority is given on the one hand, to enforce compliance with the orders of the Commission if lawful, and, on the other hand, power is conferred to stay the enforcement of an illegal order. The other provisions of the act are equally convincing. Thus, $ 3 (208), provides that the mere pendency of a suit to enjoin, set aside, annul or suspend an order of the Commission "shall not stay or suspend the operation of such order” but confers upon the court the power, under circumstances stated, to restrain or suspend in whole or in part the operation of an order. The same section, moreover, causes the meaning of the provision, if possible, to become clearer by making a finding that irreparable injury will result from the operation of an order sought to be enforced, essential to the granting of an order or injunction restraining or suspending its enforcement.
We might well be content to rest our conclusion upon the considerations just stated. In view, however, of the importance of the subject we do not do so, but shall consider the matter in a broader aspect for the purpose of demonstrating that to give to the statute a meaning contrary to that which we have found resuits from its text, and therefore to recognize the existence in the court below of the power which it deemed it possessed would result in frustrating the legislative public policy which led to the adoption of the act to regulate commerce, would render impossible a resort to the remedies which the statute was enacted to afford, would multiply the evils which the act to regulate commerce was adopted to prevent, and thus bring about disaster by creating confusion and conflict where clearness and unity of action was contemplated. It cannot be disputed that the act creating the Commerce Court was intended to be but a part of the existing system for the regulation of interstate commerce, which was established by virtue of the original adoption in 1887 of the
act to regulate commerce, and which was expanded by the repeated amendments of that act which followed, developed in practical execution by the rulings of the body (Interstate Commerce Commission), upon whom was cast the administrative enforcement of the act, the whole elucidated and sanctioned by a long line of decisions of this court. That in adopting the provisions concerning the Commerce Court and making it part of the system, it was not intended to destroy the existing machinery or method of regulation, but to cause it to be more efficient by affording a more harmonious means for securing the judicial enforcement of the act to regulate commerce is certain. The act creating the Commerce Court (June 18, 1910, 36 Stat. 539, c. 309) was entitled “An Act to create a Commerce Court, and to amend the Act entitled 'An Act to regulate commerce,' approved February fourth, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, as heretofore amended, and for other purposes. The first six sections, which called into being the Commerce Court and defined its powers, all demonstrate the purpose as above stated, that is, to adjust the powers and duties of the newly created court in such manner as to cause them to accord with the system of regulation provided by the act to regulate commerce as it then existed.
What was then the existing system and the functions which the new court was created to perform will be conclusively shown by a brief outline of the scope and purpose of the system which arose from the enactment of the act to regulate commerce (Act February 4, 1887, c. 104, 24 Stat. 379) and its development. By that act as originally enacted many regulations and consequent duties were imposed upon carriers in the interest of the public and of shippers which did not theretofore exist, and various administrative safeguards were formulated, all of which, in their very essence, required, first, for their compulsory enforcement the exercise of official functions of an adminisOpinion of the Court.
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trative nature, and, second, for their harmonious development an official unity of action which could only be brought about by a single administrative initiative and primary control. To that end the act (11) created an administrative body endowed with what may be in some respects qualified as quasi-judicial attributes, to whom was confided the enforcement of those provisions of the act which essentially exacted unity in order that they might beneficially operate. And for the purposes stated, to the body thus created was committed the trust of enforcing the act in the respect stated, of determining, limited as to the subject-matters to which we have referred, whether the provisions of the act had been violated and if so of primarily enforcing the act by awarding appropriate relief. The statute, therefore, necessarily, while it created new rights in favor of shippers, in order to make those rights fruitful as to the subjects with which the statute dealt coming within the scope of the administrative unity which we have mentioned primarily made the judgment of the administrative body to whom the statute confided the enforcement of the act in the respects stated a prerequisite to a resort to the courts. In other words, as to the subjects stated the act did not give to the courts power to hear the complaint of a party concerning a violation of the act, but only conferred power to give effect to such complaints, when by previous submission to the Commission, they had been sanctioned by a command of that body.
In the long interval which intervened between 1887 when the act to regulate commerce was enacted and June 18, 1910, when the Commerce Court act was passed we have learned of no instance where it was held or even seriously asserted, that as to subjects which in their nature were administrative and within the competency of the Commission to decide, there was power in a court, by an exercise of original action, to enforce its conceptions as