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CLEVELAND C., C. & ST.L. RY. CO. V. ILLINOIS, 177 U. S. 514 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cleveland C., C. & St.L. Ry. Co. v. Illinois, 177 U.S. 514 (1900)

Cleveland Cincinnati, Chicago and

St. Louis Railway Company v. Illinois


Argued and submitted March 16, 1900

Decided April 30, 1300

177 U.S. 514


A state statute required all regular passenger trains to stop a sufficient length of time at county seats to receive and let off passengers with safety. It appearing that the defendant company furnished four regular passenger trains per day each way, which were sufficient to accommodate all the local and through business, and that all such trains stopped at county seats, the act was held to be invalid as applied to an express train intended only for through passengers from St. Louis to New York.

While railways are bound to provide primarily and adequately for the accommodation of those to whom they are directly tributary, they have the legal right, after all these local conditions have been met, to adopt special provisions for through traffic, and legislative interference therewith is an infringement upon the clause of the Constitution which requires that commerce between the states shall be free and unobstructed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 177 U. S. 515

This was a petition for a writ of mandamus filed in the Circuit Court for the County of Montgomery, by the state's attorney for that county, to compel the defendant railway company, which for several years past has operated, and is now operating, a railroad from St. Louis, Missouri, through the County of Montgomery and the City of Hillsboro, the county seat of such county, to Indianapolis, Indiana, to stop a regular passenger train designated as the "Knickerbocker Special," at the City of Hillsboro a sufficient length of time to receive and let off passengers with safety.

The petition was based upon section 26 of an Act of the General Assembly of Illinois entitled "An Act in Relation to Fences and Operating Railroads," approved March 21, 1874, which reads as follows:

"Every railroad corporation shall cause its passenger trains to stop upon its (their) arrival at each station advertised by such corporation as a place of receiving and discharging passengers upon and from such trains, a sufficient length of time to receive and let off such passengers with safety: Provided, all regular passenger trains shall stop a sufficient length of time at the railroad stations of county seats to receive and let off passengers with safety."

The answer of the railroad company averred that the company furnished four regular passenger trains each way a day, passing through and stopping at Hillsboro, and that they amply accommodated the travel, and afforded every reasonable facility to such city; that the Knickerbocker Special was a train especially devoted to carrying interstate transportation between the City of St. Louis and the City of New York; that the travel between these cities had grown to such an extent that it had become necessary to put on a through fast train, which connected with other similar trains on the Lake Shore and New York Central roads, and that it was necessary to put on this train because the trains theretofore run, none of which had ever been taken off, could not, by reason of stopping at Hillsboro and other similar stations, make the time necessary for eastern connections, or carry passengers from St. Louis to New York within the time which the demands of business and interstate chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 177 U. S. 516

traffic required; that the Knickerbocker Special is not a regular passenger train for carrying passengers from one point to another in the State of Illinois, such traffic being amply provided for by other trains, and that the Knickerbocker Special is used exclusively for interstate traffic from and to points without the State of Illinois; that it is not subject to regulation by the statute of Illinois providing that all trains shall stop at all county seats, and that to subject it to the statutes of the various states through which it passes, requiring it to stop at county seats, would wholly destroy the usefulness of the train and would impede and obstruct interstate commerce, and that obedience to the statute in question would require it to abandon the train.

A demurrer to this answer was sustained, and, the defendant electing to stand upon it as a full defense to the petition, a final judgment was rendered and a peremptory writ of mandamus awarded against the defendant. On appeal to the supreme court of the state, this judgment was affirmed. Whereupon the railway company sued out a writ of error from this Court.

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