Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company

PETITIONER: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
RESPONDENT: Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company
LOCATION: Where Penn was killed

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 382 US 423 (1966)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1965 / Dec 09, 1965
DECIDED: Jan 31, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1965 in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1965 in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company

Earl Warren:

Locomotive Engineers et al., Appellants, versus Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company et al.

Robert V. Light:

Mr. Chief Justice --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Light.

Robert V. Light:

-- may it please the Court.

At recess yesterday, I was discussing the first of the two Arkansas laws here in dispute.

The 1907 Act which prescribes a minimum crew on freight trains operated in Arkansas meeting its specifications of six members directing that they be engineer, fireman, conductor and three brakemen.

The Act provides those requirements by its own terms regardless of any modern equipment that maybe placed on the trains.

The Act prescribes a penalty of not less than $100, not less than $500 every train run to constitute a separate violation of the Act.

The six plaintiff railroads in this case operate thousands of trains in Arkansas each year which is not operated in accordance with the provisions of the Act, staff with six men would constitute a violation.

The exceptions contained in the Act or that it does not apply to railroads having less than 50 miles of line and that it does not apply to trains with less than 25 cars.

The other Act passed in 1913 prescribes a similar crew of six men for switch crews operated in Arkansas meeting its specifications.

A similar penalty with a similar provision that every switch crew operated without complying with it shall constitute a separate violation is contained.

Its exceptions are to railroad companies with less than 100 miles of line.

I will discuss later this morning the effect of the 100-mile and the 50-mile exceptions as they bring the impact to these statutes on the interstate railroads operating in Arkansas only and fully exempt the 17 intrastate railroads from the burdens of these Acts.

If other exception in the switch crew law is that it does not apply to switching operations which are conducted outside of cities of the second class and not over public crossings.

The exception with respect to switching operations not in cities of the first or second class which is the way the statute describes it is not meaningful and that in Arkansas, a city of the second class is one with at least 500 inhabitants but there are provisions whereby lesser towns can vote to become cities of the second class without having the requisite 500 inhabitants.

That exclusion probably has no application to any switching operation in Arkansas.

These statutes of Arkansas are the most extreme form of this type of legislation that the states have undertaken to enact.

No similar statutes have been undertaken by Arkansas nor by any other state to my knowledge to burden competing forms of transportation such as buses and trucks and barges and airplanes.

The states do not undertake to prescribe the level of crew operation or the level of crew staffing for passenger buses for example.

It is extreme in the sense that it's the most extreme regulation in the sense that among the seven states that still have operable crew consist statutes Arkansas being one of them.

None of them provide for a higher level of manning than the Arkansas' six men freight crew statute.

None of them provide other than Arkansas for -- has higher level as the six men switch crew statute.

There are no other full-crew statutes that purport to prescribe so high a requirement as the Arkansas switch crew statute.

Arkansas has historically had the most burdensome of these full-crew statutes which no doubt accounts for the fact that it is the Arkansas statutes that had been before this Court for examination on several occasions.

The extent of the burden imposed on commerce --

Does this argument address to (Inaudible)?

Robert V. Light:

Your Honor, I'm attempting to describe the statutes in the light of the burden they've imposed and the impact they imposed on interstate commerce both with respect to our preemption argument and with respect to our position that these constitute an unlawful and impermissible discrimination against interstate commerce.


Robert V. Light:

The earlier cases on the Arkansas full-crew statutes, no sir.