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U.S. Supreme Court

Railroad Transfer Svc., Inc. v. City of Chicago, 386 U.S. 351 (1967)

Railroad Transfer Service Inc. v. City of Chicago

No. 209

Argued February 13, 1967

Decided March 27, 1967

386 U.S. 351


Petitioner, in 1955, was engaged by the railroads in replacement of another motor carrier to transport passengers between rail terminals in Chicago. To block the replacement, the city amended an ordinance primarily regulatory of taxicab companies by requiring new companies seeking to perform transfer services to obtain licenses by, inter alia, demonstrating their ability to satisfy the public convenience and necessity. This Court, rejecting the city's contention that the challenge was premature, invalidated that requirement in Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S.F. R. Co., 357 U. S. 77, a suit brought by petitioner and the railroads. Thereafter, the city repealed the invalid section, but added or left unchanged other provisions so that, under the amended ordinance, the city still requires a license for each vehicle, for which a detailed application has to be filed and a fee paid. An applicant is required to hire only Chicago residents as drivers and to maintain its principal business place in Chicago. A license, which has to be renewed each year following the same detailed application procedure, will be issued if the city, after investigation, finds the applicant "qualified" and the vehicle for which the license is sought is in "safe and proper condition." The amended ordinance provides for a fine up to $100 a day for each violation of its provisions. Petitioner brought this action seeking a declaration that the ordinance imposes unconstitutional burdens on interstate commerce and regulates an area preempted by the Interstate Commerce Act. While that case was pending, the city again demanded that petitioner halt operations unless it "fully complied" with the ordinance, which it again amended to impose additional requirements, including the filing of detailed financial reports. The District Court dismissed petitioner's action as premature. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. Petitioner's action is not premature. Though petitioner obtained its licenses after filing this suit, it has continued to operate only by paying the license fees into court, and the city has continually chanrobles.com-red

Page 386 U. S. 352

demanded that petitioner fully comply with the ordinance or be subjected to penalties for not doing so. Pp. 386 U. S. 357-358.

2. The ordinance is invalid as reserving to the city the power which the Interstate Commerce Act give to the railroads of determining who may transfer interstate passengers and baggage between railroad terminals and as imposing requirements the total effect of which is to burden interstate commerce. Atchison, T. & S.F. R. Co., supra, followed. Pp. 386 U. S. 358-360.

358 F.2d 55, reversed.


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