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Opinion of the Court.
in Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, and has been steadily adhered to since. That such power of regulation as they possess is limited to matters of a strictly local nature, and does not extend to fixing tariffs upon passengers or merchandise carried from one State to another, is also settled by more recent decisions, although it must be admitted that cases upon this point have not always been consistent.
The question of the power of the States to lay down a scale of charges, as distinguished from their power to impose taxes, was first squarely presented to the court in Munn v. Illinois, 94 U. S. 113, in which a power was conceded to the State to prescribe regulations and fix the charges of elevators used for the reception, storage, and delivery of grain, notwithstanding such elevators were used for the storage of grain destined for other States. The decision was put upon the ground that elevators were property “affected with a public interest," and that from time immemorial in England, and in this country from its first colonization, it had been customary to regulate ferries, common carriers, hackmen, bakers, millers, wharfingers, innkeepers, etc., and in so doing to fix a maximum of charge to be made for services rendered, accommodations furnished, and articles sold. That the decision does not necessarily imply a power in the States to prescribe similar regulations with regard to railroads and other corporations directly engaged in interstate commerce is evident from the remarks of the Chief Justice, p. 135, in delivering the opinion of the court: “ The warehouses of these plaintiffs in error are situated and their business carried on exclusively within the limits of the State of Illinois. They are used as instruments by those engaged in state as well as those engaged in interstate commerce, but they are no more necessarily a part of commerce itself than the dray or the cart by which, but for them, grain would be transferred from one railroad station to another. Incidentally they may become connected with interstate commerce, but not necessarily so. Their regulation is a thing of domestic concern, and certainly, until Congress acts in reference to their interstate relations, the State may exercise all the powers of government over
Opinion of the Court.
them, even though in so doing it may operate upon commerce outside its immediate jurisdiction.” The principle of this case has been recently affirmed in Budd v. New York, 143 U. S. 517, and reaffirmed in Brass v. North Dakota, 153 U. S. 391, though not without strong opposition from a minority of the court.
In the next case, viz., that of the Chicago, Burlington &c. Railroad v. Iowa, 94 U. S. 155, 163, a bill was filed by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company, an Illinois corporation, to restrain the prosecution of suits against it under “An act to establish reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of freight and passengers on the different railroads of this State.” The complainant was also the lessee of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad in Iowa, the two roads being connected by a bridge which crossed the Mississippi River at Burlington, thus making a continuous railroad from Chicago to Platsmouth on the Missouri River, in Iowa. The case was held to be covered by Munn v. Illinois, the road, like the warehouse in that case, being situated within the limits of a single State. “Its business," said the Chief Justice, “is carried on there, and its regulation is a matter of domestic concern. It is employed in state as well as interstate commerce, and, until Congress acts, the State must be permitted to adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of the people within its own jurisdiction, even though in so doing, those without may be indirectly affected.” In short, the case was treated as one of internal commerce only.
In the next case, viz., Peik v. Chicago & Northwestern Railway, 94 U. S. 164, it was held that, under the constitution of Wisconsin providing that all acts creating corporations within the State “ may be altered or repealed by the legislature at any time after their passage,” the legislature had a right to prescribe a maximum of charges to be made by the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company for transporting persons or property within the State, or taken up outside the State and brought within it, or taken up inside
Opinion of the Court.
and carried without. The vital question is not discussed at any length, but it was held that, until Congress acted with reference to the relations of this company to interstate commerce, it was within the power of the State of Wisconsin to regulate its affairs so far as they were of a domestic concern. These three cases were cited with approval in Ruggles v. Minois, 108 U. S. 526, in which the power of a State to limit the amount of charges by a railroad company for fares and freight was recognized.
A similar principle, though under quite a different state of facts, was involved in Hall v. De Cuir, 95 U. S. 485, which concerned an act of the legislature of Louisiana, requiring those engaged in the transportation of passengers among the States to give all persons travelling within that State, upon vessels employed in such business, equal rights and privileges in parts of the vessel, without distinction on account of race or color. The act was held to be a regulation of interstate commerce, and, therefore, unconstitutional and void. In the Railroad Commission Cases, 116 U. S. 307, it was held that the right of a State to limit the charges of a railroad company for the transportation of persons or property within its jurisdiction could not be granted away by its legislature unless by words of positive grant or words equivalent in law; and that a statute which granted to a railroad company the right from time to time to fix and regulate the tolls and charges by them to be received for transportation did not deprive the State of its power to act upon the reasonableness of the tolls and charges so fixed and regulated. It was held that the State might, “beyond all question, by the settled rule of decision in this court, regulate freights and fares for business done exclusively within the State, and it would seem to be a matter of domestic concern to prevent the company from discriminating against persons and places in Mississippi.”
Nothing can be done by the government of Mississippi which will operate as a burden on the interstate business of the company or impair the usefulness of its facilities for interstate traffic.
The commission is in express terms prohibited by the act of March 15, 1884, from interfering
Opinion of the Court.
with the charges of the company for the transportation of persons or property through Mississippi from one State to another. The statute makes no mention of property taken up without the State and delivered within, nor of such as may be taken within and carried without.” The court studiously avoided committing itself upon the question of the power of the commission over interstate commerce.
The prior cases were all reviewed, and the subject exhaustively considered in the Wabash &c. Railway v. Ilinois, 118 U. S. 557, in which there came under review a statute of Illinois enacting that if any railroad company should, within that State, charge or receive for transporting passengers or freight of the same class the same or a greater sum for any distance than it does for a longer distance, it should be liable to a penalty for unjust discrimination. The defendant in that case made such discrimination in regard to goods transported over the same road or roads, from Peoria, Illinois, and from Gilman, in Illinois, to New York; charging more for the same class of goods carried from Gilman than from Peoria, the former being eighty-six miles nearer the city of New York than the latter, this difference being in the length of line in the State of Illinois. The court held that such transportation was commerce among the States, even as to that part of the voyage which lay within the State of Illinois, and that the regulation of such commerce was confided to Congress exclusively, under its power to regulate commerce between the States, and that the statute in question, being intended to regulate the transmission of persons or property from one State to another, was not within that class of legislation which the States may enact in the absence of legislation by Congress. In delivering the opinion of the court Mr. Justice Miller cited the prior cases, and said that it must be admitted that, in a general way, the court treated the cases then before it as belonging to that class of regulations of commerce, which, like pilotage, bridging navigable rivers, and many others, could be acted upon by the States in the absence of any legislation by Congress upon the same subject. He further observed that “the great question to be decided, and
Opinion of the Court.
which was decided, and which was argued in all those cases, was the right of the State in which the railroad company did business to regulate or limit the amount of any of these traffic charges. The importance of that question overshadowed all others; and the case of Munn v. Illinois was selected by the court as the most appropriate one in which to give its opinion on that subject, because that case presented the question of a private citizen, or unincorporated partnership, engaged in the warehouse business in Chicago,
free from the question of continuous transportation through the several States,
and the question how far a charge made for a continuous transportation over several States, which included a State whose laws were in question, may be divided into separate charges for each State, in enforcing the power of the States to regulate the fares of its railroads, was evidently not fully considered.” The substance of the opinion was that, if the prior cases were to be considered as laying down the principle that the States might regulate the charges for interstate traffic, they must be considered as overruled. See also Bowman v. Chicago &c. Railway, 125 U. S. 465. In none of the subsequent cases has any disposition been shown to limit or qualify the doctrine laid down in the Wabash case, and to that doctrine we still adhere.
The real question involved here is whether this case can be distinguished from the Wabash case. That involved the right of a single State to fix the charge for transportation from the interior of such State to places in other States. This case involves the right of one State to fix charges for the transportation of persons and property over a bridge connecting it with another State, without the assent of Congress or such other State, and thus involving the further inquiries, first, whether such traffic across the river is interstate commerce; and, second, whether a bridge can be considered an instrument of such commerce.
The first question must be answered in the affirmative upon the authority of Gloucester Ferry Co. v. Pennsylvania, 114 U. S. 196, in which the State of Pennsylvania attempted to tax the capital stock of a corporation whose entire business