Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Boston & Maine R. Co.

PETITIONER: Baltimore & Ohio R. Co.
RESPONDENT: Boston & Maine R. Co.
LOCATION: South Carolina State House

DOCKET NO.: 97
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 373 US 372 (1963)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1963
DECIDED: May 20, 1963

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Boston & Maine R. Co.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1963 (Part 1) in Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Boston & Maine R. Co.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1963 (Part 2) in Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Boston & Maine R. Co.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Doolittle.

J. William Doolittle, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The appellees' time is being shared among the government, the New York interests and the Boston interests.

I shall state the government's position relatively briefly and then the burden of the appellees' argument will be handled by Governor Dewey and Mr. Bleakney.

The United States finds itself in essentially intermediate position in this case.

We agree with the other appellees that the Commission failed to spell out a rational legal basis for its decision and therefore we agree that the Three Judge District Court properly set the Commission's order aside.

However, we cannot agree that the District Court was there upon warranted in substituting its own judgment for that of the Commission on the important question of transportation policy presented by this case.

We believe that the proceeding should have been and should now be remanded to the Commission in order to give it an opportunity to determine whether in the light of the Court's opinion the evidence warrants a different result and in any event to make adequate findings in support of its conclusions.

And we feel that the necessity of such a remand is particularly clear on the question of the justness and reasonableness of the rates in question.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Mr. Doolittle is this a body of new evidence or just new findings on the record already made?

J. William Doolittle, Jr.:

Well I'm going to cover that point in a little more detail Mr. Justice Brennan.

We are not contending that the Commission must reopen the record or anything of that sort, but I'll touch upon that again.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Because I think we've many times expressed some dissatisfaction with the legislation that handles the matter of findings, that's why [Inaudible]

J. William Doolittle, Jr.:

Well our -- the essence of our attack on the Commission's order is on findings and the relationship between findings and conclusion, there is a lack of a rational connection and that's the basis on which we would ask the Court primarily to decide the case.

Because of the extremely limited time available to the Government, I shall have to leave it to counsel for the New York and Boston interests to demonstrate in detail the reasons why the District Court was correct in setting aside the Commission's order.

In the few minutes available to me, I shall focus only on one of the deficiencies in the report in order to illustrate why we think that a remand is called for in this case, then I shall also touch upon the justness and reasonableness point and finally I do hope to spend some time on the nature of the remand that we have in mind.

The defect in the Commission's case on which I should like to focus and it is the defect on which the District Court primarily focused is the Commission's attaching decisive weight to considerations that it had largely ignored in the past, and indeed that it indicated were irrelevant to its conclusions, and that is the question of distance and also to some extent costs.

Now the appellants in their briefs and in their argument here have argued very strongly that in fact in port differential cases in the past the Commission has given distance weight whether they contend the Commission has given conclusive weight or not as they practically did here.

I don't know, but they do argue that the Commission has given it weight in the past.

I'm afraid that I don't have the time to debate that issue in detail, but we do think that the short answer to that question is provided by the Commission's reports in this very case.

At page 3772 and 3773 of the record in the Commission's initial report in this case, the Commission discussed the weight to be accorded the distance element, and I don't see how the Court can read those two pages without coming to conclusion that the Commission is saying in our decisions in the past we have accorded very little weight to the issue -- to the question of distances, and one very important sentence in the Commission's discussion of this particular point is this one at the bottom of page 3772, talking about distance -- disadvantages of the Northern Tier Ports.

Such distance disadvantages as they have are much less than the substantial differences in distance to and from some other ports which have a parity or near parity of rates including the Canadian ports and the Y difference which obtain where the several South Atlantic and Gulf Ports are equalized.

Now, after the Commission rendered this decision, it was sent to the District -- it went to the District Court at the instance primarily of the Boston Carriers.

And then the Commission voluntarily reopened it when it was contended that the Commission had not sufficiently distinguished among the several northern tier ports in making its findings.

And in its opinion on reconsideration, it is there they gave conclusive weight at least as to Boston to the question of its distance disadvantages.

And it said, after discussing the various relative distances and this is on page 3854 of the record.

Such great differences in distance under the circumstances here revealed may not be ignored without running counter to the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Act.

Well we submit that those two statements simply cannot stand in the same case.

Now, the Commission indicated that the -- in its original order that these distances were minor compared to the ones that it allowed elsewhere and then suddenly they become so great that it could not ignore them without running counter to Section 3(1) of the Act.

No explanation as to why such distances elsewhere could not run counter to 3(1) of the Act.