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U.S. Supreme Court

Mississippi R. Commission v. Mobile & Ohio R. Co., 244 U.S. 388 (1917)

Mississippi Railroad Commission v. Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company

No. 256

Submitted May 1, 1917

Decided June 4, 1917

244 U.S. 388


While the power of the states over the railways within their borders is very great and comprehensive, the property of the railways is nevertheless protected by the fundamental guaranties of the Constitution, is entitled to as full protection as any other private property devoted to a public use, and cannot be taken from its owners without just compensation or without due process of law. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 244 U. S. 389

An attempt upon the part of a state commission to exercise the power of regulation in such an arbitrary and unreasonable manner as to prevent a railroad company from obtaining a fair return upon its property invested in the public service is repugnant to due process of law and void under the Fourteenth Amendment

Upon the facts of this case, held that an order of the Mississippi Railroad Commission requiring the appellee company to restore certain passenger trains to service on its line within that state was arbitrary, unreasonable, in excess of the lawful power of the commission, and void under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The reasonableness of requiring a carrier to operate specified trains cannot be made to depend upon the relation of the money return to the "out-of-pocket" cost -- i.e., immediate outlay for wages and fuel -- involved in their operation. Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. North Dakota, 236 U. S. 585.

The action of the Railroad Commission in this case, though expressed in a separate order as to each train directed to be restored, was based upon one citation and was intended by the commission, and treated by the court below, as in effect but one order for the restoration of all the trains; this Court therefore treats it as a unity, without determining whether some improvement of the train service might not properly have been required.


The case is stated in the opinion.

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