Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York

PETITIONER: Railway Express Agency, Inc.

DECIDED BY: Vinson Court (1946-1949)

ARGUED: Dec 06, 1948
DECIDED: Jan 31, 1949

Facts of the case

The Railway express agency was convicted and obliged to pay fine for breach of the traffic regulation of New York City. This law established prohibitions on any advertisements on vehicles except one’s of owners` products, services and were not used directly for promotion with purpose to maintain the safety conditions of street traffic and reduce distractions and cars accidents.

The case brief underlines that the plaintiff dealt with national express business which included approximately 1, 900 trucks with exterior advertising on them and, generally, non-connected with company business in New York. The appellant brought suit before the Court of Special Sessions against New York State.

The Railway express agency argued that the regulatory provisions were not related to the transport problem but created inequality based on such division. They proved that the violation accused to the company was illegible and not based on kind of advertisements on trucks but whether it was going in self-interest or for hiring, that contradicted with provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the case previous judgments that the state traffic regulation had no kind of background for discrimination established by the Equal Protection Clause, therefore the distinction established by the first act was appropriate to its purposes. The Court proved it by citing that mentioned amendment to the Constitution did not determine any prohibitions on vehicles advertisements as unconstitutional discrimination.

However, the case study concludes if it referred to the restrictions on equal protection, it would be revised in accordance with the rational basis review based on classification depending on economic welfare.


Did a New York City traffic ordinance that prohibited vehicles from displaying advertisements unrelated to the owner's business interests violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?