MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.
A review is sought here of a decision of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia given on an appeal from an order of the Radio Commission.
The General Electric Company owned and was operating a broadcasting station at Schenectady, New York, when the Radio Act of 1927 went into effect. Thereafter it sought and obtained from the commission successive licenses under that act for the further operation of the station. The last license was issued November 1, 1927, for that calendar month and was prolonged until November 11, 1928, by successive short extensions.
Our jurisdiction to review the decision of the Court of Appeals is challenged.
The act of 1927, c. 169, 44 Stat., pt. 2, 1162, was enacted as a regulation of interstate and foreign radio communication; and it is in such activities that the company's broadcasting station is used. The act, as amended in 1928, c. 263, 45 Stat. 373, and 1929, c. 701, 45 Stat. 1559, directs that no broadcasting station be used in such communication except in accordance with the act and under a license granted for the purpose; authorizes the Radio Commission to grant station licenses and renewals thereof, both for periods not exceeding three months, and otherwise gives it wide powers in administering the act; restricts the granting of station licenses and renewals to instances "where public convenience, interest or necessity
We think it plain from this resume of the pertinent parts of the act that the powers confided to the commission respecting the granting and renewal of station licenses are purely administrative and that the provision for appeals to the Court of Appeals does no more than make that court a superior and revising agency in the same field. The court's province under that provision is essentially the same as its province under the legislation which up to a recent date permitted appeals to it from administrative decisions of the Commissioner of Patents.
Referring to the provisions for patent appeals this Court said in Butterworth v. Hoe, 112 U.S. 50, 60, that the function of the court thereunder was not that of exercising ordinary jurisdiction at law or in equity, but of taking a step in the statutory proceeding under the patent laws in aid of the Patent Office. And in Postum Cereal Company v. California Fig Nut Company, 272 U.S. 693, 698, which related to a provision for a like appeal in a trade-mark proceeding, this Court held: "The decision of the Court of Appeals under § 9 of the act of 1905
In the cases just cited, as also in others, it is recognized that the courts of the District of Columbia are not created under the judiciary article of the Constitution but are legislative courts, and therefore that Congress may invest them with jurisdiction of appeals and proceedings such as have been just described.
The proceeding on the appeal from the commission's action is quite unlike the proceeding, under sections 1001 (a)-1004 (b) of the Revenue Act of 1926, c. 27, 44 Stat., pt. 2, 109, on a petition for the review of a decision of the Board of Tax Appeals; for, as this Court heretofore has pointed out, such a petition (a) brings before the reviewing court the United States or its representative on the one hand and the interested taxpayer on the other, (b) presents for consideration either the right of the United States to the payment of a tax claimed to be due from the taxpayer or his right to have refunded to him money which he has paid to satisfy a tax claimed to have been erroneously charged against him, and (c) calls for a judicial and binding determination of the matter so presented — all of which makes the proceeding a case or controversy within the scope of the judicial power as defined in the judiciary article. Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 279 U.S. 716, 724-727.
And what is said in some of the cases already cited respecting the nature and purpose of suits to enforce or
Of course the action of the Court of Appeals in assessing the costs against the commission did not alter the nature of the proceeding.
Our conclusion is that the proceeding in that court was not a case or controversy in the sense of the judiciary article, but was an administrative proceeding, and therefore that the decision therein is not reviewable by this Court.
Writ of certiorari dismissed.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.