American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. United States

PETITIONER: American Trucking Assns., Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Approximately half-way between Santa Marta, Colombia and Miami. Florida (by water)

DOCKET NO.: 74
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 364 US 1 (1960)
ARGUED: May 19, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 19, 1960 (Part 1) in American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 19, 1960 (Part 2) in American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. United States

Robert L. Pierce:

Your Honors please.

Before recess, I was pointing out that in our opinion, the basic reason why the Commission could not attach this other auxiliary and supplemental restriction because this could have converted the carrier into a common carrier and that's where beyond its power under Section 209 (b) to impose.

Now, the reason why the imposition of these usual restrictions attached in motor common carrier cases must necessarily have converted these operations of PMT into common carrier operations.

It is apparent from the Commission's decision of the -- in the (Inaudible) case which is cited in its opinion.

There, the Commission observed that coordinated rail motor service, which results, when it's, in that case, the usual auxiliary and supplemental restrictions are attached could only be accomplished through a medium -- through routes and joint rates between a railroad and a motor carrier.

In the present case, also, the Commission described the other usual restrictions as requiring a through bill of lading under rail rates covering also a prior subsequent rail haul.

Under Section 216 (c) of the Interstate Commerce Act, only through routes and joint rates between railroads and motor common carriers are permitted there, not permitted with contract carriers.

So that appellants' argument, we submit, thus leads to the observed result that they would have the Commission-attached restrictions commanding Southern Pacific and PMT to do that, which they cannot lawfully do under the above section unless PMT is considered to be a common carrier under these operations.

Neither in brief nor in oral argument have the appellants or the Government successfully establish that the Commission, as a matter of law, had any authority to attach these other auxiliary and supplemental restrictions in a contract carrier situation, which, we submit, is the real weakness to their case.

Now, the appellants try to meet this issue by saying that the Commission should -- could have granted -- should have granted a common carrier certificate instead of a contract carrier permit with the usual restrictions attached.

But under its past practice and under the law, the Commission could only have done this if it found that this particular operations were, as a matter of fact and a matter of law, common carrier operations.

And here, instead it found that that was not the case.

It found that they were common contract carrier operations within the classical definition of that because they were restricted to a single shipper.

And in fact, the permit specifically limits the service to -- to be performed for General Motors.

The Government attempts to meet this issue by arguing that if the Commission had no power to attach this other condition in a contract carrier case, then in the absence of the precise special circumstances of the ATA case, it had no power to grant any permit.

We think there are several persuasive answers to this argument.

First, the ATA case itself is --

Felix Frankfurter:

Do we --

Robert L. Pierce:

-- clear authority that the limitation --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- do we have to pass on that in this case?

Robert L. Pierce:

What's that, sir?

Felix Frankfurter:

Do we have to decide in -- is it open to us to decide whether a common carrier permit could be granted here?

Robert L. Pierce:

I think it is.

I think that -- I think you --

Felix Frankfurter:

Why?

Robert L. Pierce:

-- have to decide the Commission had no power to grant a -- any -- impose any restrictions, which would --

Felix Frankfurter:

Well, I know but all we have here is this -- this -- the contract carrier application.

Robert L. Pierce:

That's right.

Felix Frankfurter:

Do we have to say they have power or to go beyond that they couldn't -- on a different record, it might not give a common carrier license?

Robert L. Pierce:

No.