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LOCOMOTIVE FIREMEN V. CHICAGO R. I. & PAC. R. CO., 393 U. S. 129 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Locomotive Firemen v. Chicago R. I. & Pac. R. Co., 393 U.S. 129 (1968)

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen v.

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Co.

No. 16

Argued October 22, 1968

Decided November 18, 1968*

393 U.S. 129


Appellees, a group of interstate railroads operating in Arkansas, sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the District Court, claiming, inter alia, that Arkansas' "full-crew" laws violate the Commerce Clause, and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The full-crew laws require minimum train crews for certain conditions of railroad operation in the State but, through mileage classification, have the effect of exempting the State's intrastate railroads from those requirements. The laws were enacted in 1907 and 1913 to further railroad safety, and, though several times subsequently reevaluated, have been retained for that purpose. Conflicting evidence was given to support the railroads' claims that full-crew requirements merely facilitate featherbedding and appellants' claims that such requirements promote safety. Though earlier decisions of this Court upheld the statutes against constitutional challenge, the District Court concluded that conditions have changed and that the full-crew laws now impermissibly burden interstate commerce. The court also held that the full-crew laws are "unreasonable and oppressive," and thus violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court did not reach appellees' contention that the laws discriminate against interstate commerce in favor of intrastate commerce in violation of the Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses.


1. Whether full-crew laws are necessary to further railroad safety is a matter for legislative determination. In the circumstances of this case, the District Court erred in rejecting the legislative judgment that such laws promote railroad safety and that chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 393 U. S. 130

the cost of additional crewmen is justified by the safety such laws might achieve. Pp. 393 U. S. 136-140.

2. The mileage classification of the Arkansas laws is permissible under the Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses. Pp. 393 U. S. 140-142.

3. The full-crew laws do not violate the Equal Protection Clause by singling out railroads from other forms of transportation, and appellees' contention that the statutes are "unduly oppressive" under the Due Process Clause affords no basis for their invalidation apart from any effect on interstate commerce. Pp. 393 U. S. 142-143.

274 F.Supp. 294, reversed and remanded.

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