Federal Power Commission v. Hunt

PETITIONER: Federal Power Commission
RESPONDENT: Hunt
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 273
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 376 US 515 (1964)
ARGUED: Mar 02, 1964
DECIDED: Mar 30, 1964

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Power Commission v. Hunt

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1964 (Part 2) in Federal Power Commission v. Hunt

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1964 (Part 1) in Federal Power Commission v. Hunt

Earl Warren:

-- Federal Power Commission, Petitioner, versus H. L. Hunt et al.

Mr. Solomon.

Richard A. Solomon:

Mr. Chief Justice.

This is a case which arises under the Natural Gas Act.

And in this case, we are seeking review of a decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which set aside a decision of the Commission directing the respondents in this case, to maintain the 18-cent guideline price, at which we had temporarily certificated their sales pending the completion of the statutory hearing on their application for permanent certificate.

The reason why the Commission, in granting them a temporary certificate at 18 cents, said that, "Until we get finished with the hearing on the permanent certificate, you may not raise the price even though the contract here called for 20 cents."

It was because the Commission found that collecting 20 cents during the period after the expiration of the five-month suspension period, the mere collection of 20 cents, even though it would be subject to refund would adversely affect the public convenience and necessity and substantially impair our ability to hold the line while we were making the inline determination which, of course this Court, directed us to do in the CATCO decision.

The Court of Appeals --

Potter Stewart:

You're saying what kind of a determination?

Richard A. Solomon:

The determination that we are acquired to make under this decision -- Court's decision in what I call the CATCO case --

Potter Stewart:

Yes.

Richard A. Solomon:

The Atlantic Refining --

Potter Stewart:

Yes.

Richard A. Solomon:

-- case at 360, is to determine before we grant a permanent certificate, whether the price is in line.

Potter Stewart:

Oh, in line.

Richard A. Solomon:

Yes.

Potter Stewart:

I just didn't hear you.

Richard A. Solomon:

Alright.

And that was what -- and we said, we'll give you 18 cents which is our guideline price until we determine what the actual inline price is.

The Court of Appeals, as I shall indicate later, didn't really disagree with our factual conclusion that allowing them to go up 20 cents would interfere with our ability to hold the line.

But the Court believe that we were without power to do so because as they read the Act, Section 4 gives parties a legal right to file up to their contract right subject to the suspension provisions, which cannot be impaired by the exercise of the Commission certificate powers under Section 7.

So the issue is between the authority of a party to file up to his contract rate, under Section 4 of the Act and the authority of the Commission operating in its certificate powers at the threshold to say where there are good reasons to do so that for this particular period of time, you cannot collect up to your contract price.

Tom C. Clark:

You could suspend them as they came up in the future.

Richard A. Solomon:

Pardon me?

Tom C. Clark:

You could suspend each one that was filed on the future.

Richard A. Solomon:

We could suspend them as they came up in the future.

Tom C. Clark:

And they're not allowed at 18.

Richard A. Solomon:

We --

Tom C. Clark:

But that would only last five months.

Richard A. Solomon:

That was last five months, right.