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U.S. Supreme Court

Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. No. Car. Corp. Comm'n, 206 U.S. 1 (1907)

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company v.

North Carolina Corporation Commission

No. 15

Argued February 28 and March 1, 1907

Decided April 29, 1907

206 U.S. 1


Railroad companies, from the public nature of the business by them carried on and the interest which the public have in their operation, are subject as to their state business to state regulation, which may be exerted either directly by the legislative authority or by administrative bodies endowed with power to that end.

The public power to regulate railroads and the private right of ownership of such property coexist, and do not the one destroy the other, and where the power to regulate is so arbitrarily exercised as to infringe the rights of ownership, the exertion is void because repugnant to the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

An order of a state railroad commission requiring a railroad company to so arrange its schedule as to furnish transportation between two points so as to make connections with through trains held, under the circumstances of this case, not to be so arbitrary or unreasonable as to transcend the limits of regulation and to be in effect either a denial of due process of law or a deprivation of the equal protection of the laws, or a taking of property without compensation.

Whether a regulation of a state railroad commission, otherwise legal, is arbitrary and unreasonable because beyond the scope of the powers delegated to the commission is not a federal question.

It is within the power of a state railroad commission to compel a railroad company to make reasonable connections with other roads so as to promote chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 206 U. S. 2

the convenience of the traveling public, and an order requiring the running of an additional train for that purpose, if otherwise just and reasonable, is not inherently unjust and unreasonable because the running of such train will impose some pecuniary loss on the company.

While the enforcement by a a general scheme of maximum rates so unreasonably low as to be unjust and unreasonable may be confiscation, and amount to taking property without due process of law, the states have power to compel a railroad company to perform a particular and specified duty necessary for the convenience of the public even though it may entail some pecuniary loss. Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 526, distinguished.

The facts are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 206 U. S. 6

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