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judicial legislation. In construing the commodities clause of the Hepburn Act the suggestion of the Government to limit its application to commodities while in the hands of a carrier or its first vendee, and, as thus construed, extend the indirect interest prohibition to commodities belonging to corporations the stock whereof is owned in whole or in part by the carrier, or those which had been mined, manufactured or produced by the carrier prior to the transportation, cannot be ac
cepted. The duty of this court in construing a statute which is reasonably sus
ceptible of two constructions, one of which would render it unconstitutional and the other valid, to adopt that construction which saves its constitutionality (Knights Templar Indemnity Co. v. Jarman, 187 U. S. 197) includes the duty of avoiding a construction which raises grave and doubtful constitutional questions if the statute can be reasonably construed so as to avoid such questions. Harriman v. · Interstate Com. Comm., 211 U. S. 407. This rule applied to the commodities clause of the Hepburn Act so as
to avoid deciding the constitutional questions which would arise if the clause were construed so as to prohibit the carrying of commodities owned by corporations of which the carrier is a shareholder, or which it had mined, manufactured or produced at some time prior to the transportation.
1 The grave, constitutional questions which the court could not have avoided answering by adopting the construction contended for by the Government are as follows (see p. 406, post):
1. Whether the power of Congress to regulate commerce embraces the authority to control or prohibit the mining, manufacturing, production or ownership of an article or commodity, not because of some inherent quality of the commodity, but simply because it may become the subject of interstate commerce.
2. If the right to regulate commerce does not thus extend, can it be impliedly made to embrace subjects which it does not control, by forbidding a railroad company engaged in interstate comn.erce from carrying lawful articles or commodities because, at some time prior to the transportation, it had manufactured, mined, produced or owned them, etc.?
Also as necesarily involved in the determination of the foregoing questions:
Q. Did the adoption of the Constitution and the grant of power to Congress to regulate commerce have the effect of depriving the States of the authority to endow a carrier with the attribute of producing as
Where ambiguity exists it is the duty of a court construing a statute to
restrain the wider and doubtful provisions so as to make them accord with the narrow and more reasonable provisions and thus harmonize
the statute. A prohibition in an act of Congress will not be extended to include a
subject where the extension raises grave constitutional questions as to the power of Congress, where one branch of that body rejected an
amendment specifically including such subject within the prohibition. In the construction of a statute the power of the lawmaking body to
enact it, and not the consequences resulting from the enactment is the criterion of constitutionality. The provision contained in the Hepburn Act approved June 29, 1906,
c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584, commonly called the commodities clause, does not prohibit a railway company from moving commodities in interstate commerce because the company has manufactured, mined or produced them, or owned them in whole or in part or has had an interest direct or indirect in them, wholly irrespective of the relation or connection of the carrier with the commodities at the time of trans
portation. The provision of the commodities clause relating to interest, direct or
indirect, does not embrace an interest which a carrier may have in a producing corporation as the result of the ownership by the carrier of stock in such corporation provided the corporation has been or
ganized in good faith. Rejecting the construction placed by the Government upon the com
modities clause, it is decided that that clause, when all its provisions are harmoniously construed, has solely for its object to prevent carriers engaged in interstate commerce from being associated in
well as transporting particular commodities, a power which the States from the beginning have freely exercised, and by the exertion of which governmental power the resources of the several States have been developed, their enterprises fostered, and vast investments of capital have been made possible?
b. Although the Government of the United States, both within its spheres of national and local legislative power, has in the past for public purposes, either expressly or impliedly, authorized the manufacture, mining, production and carriage of commodities by one and the same railway corporation, was the exertion of such power beyond the scope of the authority of Congress, or, what is equivalent thereto, was its exercise but a mere license, subject at any time to be revoked and completely destroyed by means of a regulation of commercer
interest at the time of transportation with the commodities transported, and it therefore only prohibits railroad companies engaged in interstate commerce from transporting in such commerce commodities under the following circumstances and conditions: a. When the commodity has been manufactured, mined or produced
by a railway company or under its authority and at the time of transportation the railway company has not in good faith before
the act of transportation parted with its interest in such commodity; 6. When the railway company owns the commodity to be transported
in whole or in part; c. When the railway company at the time of transportation has an
interest direct or indirect in a legal sense in the commodity, which last prohibition does not apply to commodities manufactured, mined, produced, owned, etc., by & corporation because a railway company is a stockholder in such corporation. Such ownership of stock in a producing company by a railway company does not cause it as owner of the stock to have a legal interest in the com
modity manufactured, etc., by the producing corporation. As thus construed the commodities clause is a regulation of commerce
inherently within the power of Congress to enact. New Haven Railroad v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 200 U. S. 361. The contention that the clause if applied to preëxisting rights will operate, to take property of railroad companies and therefore violate the due process provision of the Fifth Amendment, having been based upon the assumption that the clause prohibited and restricted in accordance with the construction which the Government gave that clause is not tenable as to the act as now construed which merely enforces a regulation of commerce by which carriers are compelled to dissociate themselves from the products which they carry and does not pro
hibit where the carrier is not associated with the commodity carried. The constitutional power of Congress to make regulations for interstate
commerce is not limited by any requirement that the regulations should apply to all commodities alike, nor does an exception of one commodity from a general regulation of interstate commerce necessarily render a statute unconstitutional as discriminating between carriers; and the exception of timber in the commodities clause of the Hepburn Act does not render the act unconstitutional, nor can the question of the expediency of such an exception affect the ques
tion of power. Where, as in this instance, the provision for penalties is separable from
the provisions for regulations, the court will not consider the question of the constitutionality of the penalty provisions in a suit brought
Argument for the United States.
by the Government to enjoin carriers from violating the regulations
and in which no penalties are sought to be recovered. As the construction now given the act differs widely from the construc
tion which the Government gave to the act and which it was the purpose of these suits to enforce, it is not necessary in reversing and remanding, to direct the character of decrees which shall be entered, but simply to reverse and remand the case with directions to enforce
and apply the statute as it is now construed. Although the Delaware and Hudson Company may originally have
been chartered principally for mining purposes, as it is now engaged as a common carrier by rail in the transportation of coal in the channels of interstate commerce, it is a railroad company within the purview of the commodities clause and is subject to the provisions of that clause as they are now construed.
En 164 Fed. Rep. 215, reversed.
THE facts which involve the constitutionality and construction of the commodities clause of the Hepburn Act, $ 1, c. 3591, act of June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 584, are stated in the opinion."
The Attorney General and The Solicitor General, with whom Mr L. Allison Wilmer and Mr. Thomas C. Spelling were on the brief, for the United States:
The question of the reasonableness of a statute is for the legislature, but the clause in question is a reasonablë exercise of the power of Congress.
If a statute pertains to a subject exclusively committed to Congress, the statute is within the scope of constitutional power; this statute is within the scope of power conferred by the Con
1" From and after May first, nineteen hundred and eight, it shall be unlawful for any railroad company to transport from any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, to any other State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, or to any foreign country, any article or commodity, other than timber and the manufactured products thereof, manufactured, mined, or produced by it, or under its authority, or which it may own in whole or in part, or in which it may have any interest direct or indirect except such articles or commodities as may be necessary and intended for its use in the conduct of its business as a common carrier."
213 U. 8.
Argument for the United States.
stitution. The Lottery Case, 188 U. S. 321, 357; Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U. S. 197, 344; The Daniel Ball, 10 Wall. 557, 566:
Congressional non-action lends no color of authority or validity to state regulations of anything properly pertaining to interstate commerce. Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100, 109, 110– 122; Addyston Pipe & Steel Co. v. United States, 175 U. S. 216, 229, 232; Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, 48, 49; Houston v. Moore, 5 Wheat. 23; Union Bridge Co. v. United States, 204 U. S. 364, 386.
When the Federal power has been exercised, it is, by the express terms of the Constitution, the exercise of the supreme will, and the state regulation must, in so far as there is a conflict, give way. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 196, 199; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 422; Asbell v. Kansas, 209 U. 8. 251, 254; Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100, 109; Houston v. Moore, '5 Wheat. 1, 23; Brown v. Maryland, 12 Pet. 446; Groves v. Slaughter, 15 Pet. 448, 510, 511; New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102, 157-159.
Not even a State, still less one of its artificial creations, can stand in the way of the enforcement of an act of Congress constitutionally passed under its authority to regulate commerce. Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U. S. 197, 333; McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 427, 429, 432, 435; Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 385, 414.
Corporations created by the States are as much subordinate to the powers of Congress, in the regulation of interstate commerce, as if they had been created by acts of Congress. Hale v. Henkel, 201 U. S. 43, 75.
If a State can by the creation of a corporation and by conferring upon the corporation certain powers forestall the operation of subsequent Federal laws before their enactment, the provision in the Constitution that laws made pursuant to its provisions shall be the supreme law of the land, may be at any time nullified. See Union Bridge Co. v. United States, 204 U. S: 364; Henderson v. Mayor of New York, 92 U. S. 259, 272; Railroad Co. v. Husen, 95 U. S. 471.