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U.S. Supreme Court

California v. United States, 320 U.S. 577 (1944)

California v. United States

Argued December 6, 1943

Decided January 3, 1944*

320 U.S. 577


The Maritime Commission, upon finding that waterfront terminals in the San Francisco Bay area were engaged in preferential and unreasonable practices -- resulting from excessive free time and noncompensatory demurrage charges -- in violation of §§ 16 and 17 of the Shipping Act of 1916, as amended, prescribed schedules of maximum free time and minimum demurrage charges. The State and a municipality, which operated terminals but which were not common carriers by water, challenged the validity of the order as applied to them.


1. The order was proper under § 17 which authorizes the Commission, when it finds unjust and unreasonable a regulation or practice relating to or connected with the receiving, handling, storing, or delivering of property, to "determine, prescribe, and order enforced a just and reasonable regulation or practice." P. 320 U. S. 584.

2. It was proper to fix minimum demurrage charges which would reflect the cost of the service. P. 320 U. S. 583.

3. The phrase "other person subject to this Act" -- defined in § 1 as

"any person not included in the term 'common carrier by water' carrying on the business of forwarding or furnishing wharfage. dock, warehouse, or other terminal facilities in connection with a common carrier by water"

-- includes the State and the municipality. P. 320 U. S. 585.

4. Regulation of the activities and instrumentalities here involved -- whether activities and instrumentalities of private or public agencies -- was within the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause. P. 320 U. S. 586.

46 F.Supp. 474 affirmed.

Appeals from decrees of a District Court of three judges refusing to set aside an order of the Maritime Commission, 2 U.S.M.C.588. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 320 U. S. 578

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