Schaffer Transportation Company v. United States

PETITIONER: Schaffer Transportation Company
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: West Los Angeles Police Station

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 355 US 83 (1957)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1957
DECIDED: Dec 09, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Schaffer Transportation Company v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1957 (Part 2) in Schaffer Transportation Company v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1957 (Part 1) in Schaffer Transportation Company v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 20, Schaffer Transportation Company and American Trucking Associations, Incorporated, appellants, versus United States of America and Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mr. Beardsley.

Peter T. Beardsley:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is an appeal from a decision of a three-judge District Court for the northern division of South Dakota.

That court in turn upheld the action of the Interstate Commerce Commission which denied Schaffer's application to transport granite between various points and places in the United States.

The court's decision is printed in the record at 359, the Commission's report at 24 and the report of Division 5, of the Commission which granted most of Schaffer's application and which was reversed by the entire Commission on reconsideration is shown in the record beginning at page 6.

The appellants here are Schaffer, a very small motor common carrier of Revillo, South Dakota and American Trucking Association, the Trade Association of the Motor Carrier Industry.

Appellees are the Interstate Commerce Commission and various rail organizations, which protested Schaffer's application before the Commission.

The government, which supported the Commission's decision before the District Court, now supports the appellants here.

Schaffer is presently authorized to transport granite from Grant County, South Dakota to points in 15 states ranging from Montana and Colorado on the west to Pennsylvania and New York on the east.

By an application, which is involved here, Schaffer sought to expand this authority to transport granite from the same origin point that is Grant County, South Dakota to points in ten eastern states in District of Columbia and in the reverse direction from points in Vermont to 16 states primarily in the Midwest.

The maps which are printed in the record at 294 and 296 show the method in which the proposed operation would dovetail or complement Schaffer's present service.

William O. Douglas:

Which page is that?

Peter T. Beardsley:

The maps are shown in the record Mr. Justice Douglas at 294 and 296.

They are Schaffer's Exhibits 4 and 5 before the Commission.

The Schaffer's application was protested by various rail groups and by one motor common carrier, Dingmann.

Hearings were held before an examiner, who recommended a grant of authority substantially as requested by Schaffer.

Exceptions were filed for the examiner's recommended grant of authority and Division 5 affirmed the examiner's report except that it eliminated authority from Grant County, South Dakota to four eastern states in the District of Columbia, those states are Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Because the Division held that since Dingmann, the one protested motor carrier, have authority to provide service to those points which service had not been shown to be in any manner inadequate.

There was no reason to duplicate that authority in effect by another grant on the same authority to Schaffer.

Now neither appellant has taken any exception at any stage of this proceeding to that partial denial of the authority.

The railroads then petitioned for reconsideration and the Commission ultimately reversed the order of its Division 5 and denied the application all together.

The only basis assigned in the Commission's report for denying the application were, one that the existing rail service was adequate to meet the shippers' needs and two that in any event the main purpose of the shippers here was to get lower rates rather than an improved service by virtue of Schaffer's operations.

The question as we see it maybe very simply stated is an applicant for motor carrier authority required to prove, among other things, that existing rail service is inadequate or to put in another way, are the shippers of the country entitled to service by all available forms of transport, or is the Commission authorized to determine as it has in this case that only the services of the railroad shall be utilized.

The statutory provisions involved are the National Transportation Policy and Section 207 of the Interstate Commerce Act which is 49 US Code 307.

The provisions of the policy are set forth in the original brief which we filed here at page 34, the provision of Section 207 are reproduced at page 38 of that brief and I might add that we have filed also in this case a reply brief.

Coming now to the merits of the case, we point out that from the beginning of federal regulation of motor carriers, until 1950, the Commission in a long line of decisions held that shippers are entitled to adequate service by motor vehicle as well as rail.

And the Bowles case which we cite at page 7 of our original brief here decided in 1937 is a landmark decision in this field.

There, as in this case, the railroad protesters, who were before the Commission seeking to have the application to perform motor service to denied, contended that railroad service was adequate to meet the shippers' need.

As to this contention, when it was put then in 1937, the Commission said that a particular point has adequate rail service is not a sufficient reason for denial of a certificate.