Bowman Transportation, Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

PETITIONER: Bowman Transportation, Inc., et al.
RESPONDENT: Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc. et al.
LOCATION: Interstate Commerce Commission, U.S. Congress

DOCKET NO.: 73-1055
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 419 US 281 (1974)
ARGUED: Nov 20, 1974
DECIDED: Dec 23, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Charles S. Rhyne - for appellants in Nos. 73 1055, 73—1069, 73—1070, and 73—1071
Phineas Stevens - for appellees in all cases
William L. Patton, Jr. - for appellants in No. 73—1072

Facts of the case

These are five consolidated cases involving 13 motor carriers who filed for certificates with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in order to conduct business between the southwestern and southeastern United States. The ICC rejected all but three applications. Bowman Transportation, Inc., one of the approved applicants, asked for more authority than initially set out in their application. The ICC granted that authority, and the competing motor carriers sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to annul the certificate. The district court found the ICC’s actions arbitrary and capricious. The court voided the certificates and permanently enjoined the ICC from issuing them. The Supreme Court heard this case on direct appeal.

Question

Were the ICC’s grant of certificates arbitrary and capricious?

Media for Bowman Transportation, Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 20, 1974 in Bowman Transportation, Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 23, 1974 in Bowman Transportation, Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion in 73-1055, Bowman Transportation Company against Arkansas-Best Freight System and related cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Douglas.

William O. Douglas:

These cases are here on appeal from a three-judge District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

They involve applications on motor carriers for certificates of public convenience and necessity to transport commodities in the southeast and southwestern parts of this country.

The three-judge court refused to enforce the order of the commission.

No question is raised here by the parties concerning the substantial evidence test.

There is a question raises respects the -- whether the District Court was correct in refusing to enforce the ICC order on the grounds that it was arbitrary and capricious within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act.

This is a rather lengthy opinion.

We review the points passed on by the District Court and argued with the parties and we conclude that the District Court erred and accordingly we reverse and remand the cases to wit.