A. L. Mechling Barge Lines, Inc. v. United States

PETITIONER: A. L. Mechling Barge Lines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Brown Shoe Co.

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 368 US 324 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1961 / Nov 09, 1961
DECIDED: Dec 18, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for A. L. Mechling Barge Lines, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1961 in A. L. Mechling Barge Lines, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1961 in A. L. Mechling Barge Lines, Inc. v. United States

-- United States.

Mr. Hayes, you may continue your argument.

Edward B. Hayes:

May I should like to call attention to the report of the late great Joseph B. Eastman on this form of rail rate competition with water carriers which shows that -- about what it is, a means of financing lower rail rate competition with water carriers by revenue -- rail revenue derived from none water competitive rail transportation, both with respect to the short-haul rate and the great reservoir of non-competitive traffic which the railroads have generally, and to -- yes sir.

Charles E. Whittaker:

May, I ask you please, is this matter in contest now?

Does not the Solicitor General concede your point?

Edward B. Hayes:

Not quite, Your Honor.

And may I refer directly to that having said what I have said.

The Solicitor General’s concession is put in a form which is confusingly broader than any issue that is presented in this case.

Let me lead up to that if I may, I referred to the fact that after insisting in the lower court on the validity of the Commission's procedures in all respects, both with respect to the necessity of findings and also with respect to the necessity of hearings before on a contested issue or uncontested issues, a binding order is made without giving the hearing that the Commission admitted the needs because it orders one -- insisted in the lower court on the validity of its procedures on both those points, then the Solicitor General concedes that as to the necessity of findings -- it, the Commissioner, has for some years been following a practice which is contrary to law.

That admission is made in very broad terms.

But the insistencies that there should be no consideration as to whether the Commission has not also been following a procedure for years.

Some few years last past that is contrary to law with respect to the necessity of those hearings in these circumstances.

It is in these circumstances that we urge that findings are necessary and that hearings are necessary.

Charles E. Whittaker:

I thought he conceded that?

Edward B. Hayes:

No sir, he did not concede that hearings were necessary.

He conceded only that findings were necessary, and asked that this Court not even consider whether the Commission had not also been departing from legally required procedures with respect to the necessity of hearings.

Charles E. Whittaker:

Isn't it true that before findings could be made, some hearing would have to precede?

Edward B. Hayes:

That sir is my position.

He does not concede it.

As a matter of fact he asked this Court not to pass on that point, but to allow the Commission to proceed without review on the short-term orders which have so long escaped preview by the means that I described yesterday.

Changing the situation when the immediate practice -- immediate instance of the unlawful practice is the same.

That is the essence of this case.

It is the recurrent nature of these illegalities in short-term orders escaping review that makes it necessary for that to be a review here against the contention that there is no longer any controversy because the particular instance of the unlawful practices (a) findings -- no findings, (b) no hearing has lapsed by virtue of something engineered for the railroad defendants.

This Court said in the Southern Pacific Terminal cases, I cannot put my argument in better language than that of the Court in that case.

The questions involved in orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission now usually continuing as are manifestly those in the case at bar.

And their consideration ought not to be as they might be defeated by short-term orders capable of repetition, yet evading review, that at one time the Government and in another time the carriers, have their right determined by the Commission without a chance of regress.

There was a situation in which the order before the Commission, had order of the Commission had expired by its terms.

It had been entered for two years only, and the two years were up and the argument of the Commission was there as yet, but the case was moot.

That was the answer that this Court returned in a situation of short-term orders that goes straight to the circumstances of this existing continuing controversy.

Charles E. Whittaker:

On that case, as I understand it and the ones like it go to the question of mootness, but if you get over that and reach the merits, then does not the Solicitor General practically concede your position on the merits?