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U.S. Supreme Court

ICC v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 467 U.S. 354 (1984)

Interstate Commerce Commission v.

American Trucking Associations, Inc.

No. 82-1643

Argued January 10, 1984

Decided June 5, 1984

467 U.S. 354


The Motor Carrier Act of 1980, in 49 U.S.C. § 10706(b)(3), established specific guidelines to which motor carrier rate bureaus must conform if they are to receive antitrust immunity. In 1980, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) issued an interpretative ruling explaining how it planned to implement these guidelines, and proposing a new remedy to enforce rate bureau agreements whereby the ICC would retroactively reject effective tariffs that had been submitted in substantial violation of such agreements. Alarmed by the prospect of overcharge liability that would result from such retroactive rejection of tariffs, respondents, a group of motor carrier rate bureaus, petitioned the Court of Appeals to review the ICC's new remedy. The Court of Appeals held that the ICC lacked the power to reject effective tariffs.

Held: The proposed new remedy lies within the ICC's discretionary authority, and the ICC does not exceed its authority by nullifying effective tariffs submitted in substantial violation of rate bureau agreements. Pp. 467 U. S. 359-371.

(a) Title 49 U.S.C. § 10762(e), which authorizes the ICC to reject a motor carrier tariff if it violates the statutory requirements for publishing and filing tariffs or an implementing regulation, does not confer on the ICC the broad power to nullify effective tariffs retroactively. This is indicated by § 10762(e)'s language and the structure of the ICC's remedial authority under the Interstate Commerce Act. Pp. 467 U. S. 361-364.

(b) The ICC, however, may elaborate upon its express statutory remedies when necessary to achieve specific statutory goals. In this case, retroactive rejection of rate bureau tariffs is a justifiable adjunct to the ICC's express § 10762(e) rejection authority, and to the extent there is an elaboration of that authority, it is necessary to ensure compliance with rate bureau agreements. The rejection of effective tariffs submitted in substantial violation of such agreements simply extends the ICC's express rejection authority so that it may adequately supervise those agreements to see that they comply with the § 10706(b)(3) guidelines. The legislative history of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 makes it clear that, beyond the bounds of antitrust immunity granted in § 10706, Congress chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 467 U. S. 355

wanted the forces of competition to determine motor carrier tariffs, and intended that the ICC play a key role in holding carriers to the § 10706(b)(3) guidelines. And the remedy in question is a means of policing rate bureau agreements sufficiently direct and close to the ICC's statutory mandate to warrant approval of the remedy. Pp. 467 U. S. 364-371.

688 F.2d 1337, reversed and remanded.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, WHITE, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 467 U. S. 371.

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