This is a bill in equity brought by railroad companies to prevent the enforcement of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission dated March 6, 1923, following reports of January 26 and March 6, 1923. 77 I.C.C. 200. Ibid. 647. The order purports to be made in pursuance of the Act of August 18, 1922, c. 280; 42 Stat. 827. This act amended § 22 of the Interstate Commerce Act by adding to what became (1), two paragraphs, viz.: (2), directing the Commission to require the railroads subject to the act, with such exemptions as the Commission holds justified, to issue interchangeable mileage or scrip coupon tickets at just and reasonable rates, in such denominations as the Commission may prescribe, with regulations as to use and prescribing whether the tickets are transferable or not transferable, and, if the latter, what identification may be required, and what baggage privileges go with such tickets; (3) making it a misdemeanor for any carrier to refuse to issue or accept such tickets
The bill alleges that the amendment of 1922, as construed by the Commission, is contrary to the Fifth Amendment and to the commerce clause, Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution, but that, properly construed, it does not authorize the order made. The order is alleged to apply to intrastate carriage, and also to be inconsistent with § 2 of the Interstate Commerce Act, which requires like charges for like service in similar circumstances; with § 3, forbidding unreasonable preferences; with § 15a, providing for the establishing of rates for rate groups that will earn a fair return upon the aggregate value of the property used in transportation; (see Increased Rates, 1920, cited as Ex parte 74, 58 I.C.C. 220; Reduced Rates, 1922, 68 I.C.C. 676;) and with §§ 1 and 22, requiring the Commission to establish just and reasonable fares. These averments are developed in detail, but we do not dwell upon them, because the decision below, and our own, turn upon a different point. It is further alleged in the bill that the conclusion stated by the Commission, that the reduced rates established by it for scrip coupon tickets will be just and reasonable for that class of travel, is contrary to the specific facts found by the Commission, and is not to be taken as an independent finding of fact, but only as a conclusion or ruling reached by it upon a misinterpretation of the law. This was the view taken by the three judges who sat in the District Court. They
We are of opinion that the interpretation of the statute in the Court below was right. There is no doubt that the bill owed its origin to a movement on the part of travelling salesmen and others to obtain interchangeable mileage or scrip coupon books at reduced rates. The bill that was passed originally fixed reduced rates, but it was amended to its present form undoubtedly because the prevailing opinion was that the rates should be determined in the usual way by the usual body. The object of the travelling salesmen was defeated in so far as Congress declined to take any step beyond authorizing the issue of scrip tickets. Coming as it did from the agitation for this form of reduced fares, the statute naturally enough carried with it more or less mirage of fulfilling the hope that gave it rise, but in fact it required a determination of what was just and reasonable exactly as in any other case arising under the Interstate Commerce Act. The original purpose of the amendment as introduced retained headway enough to require the issue of scrip, but there the purpose was stopped, and, as not infrequently happens in legislation, the matter was left otherwise where it was before. Apart from constitutional difficulties, Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Ry. Co. v. Smith, 173 U.S. 684, the whole tendency of the law has been adverse to the enactment as proposed, at least unless a clear case should be made out.