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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued October 15, 16, 1913 ; June 22, 1914
Nos. 481, 482, 483, 506, 507, 508
[*557] [**957] [***1469] MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.
By the act of Congress of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584, the Act to Regulate Commerce was amended so that the first section reads in part as follows: ] "That the provisions of this Act shall apply to any corporation [****17] or any person or persons engaged in the transportation of [*558] oil or other commodity, except water and except natural or artificial gas, by means of pipe lines, or partly by pipe lines and partly by railroad, or partly by pipe lines and partly by water, who shall be considered and held to be common carriers within the meaning and purpose of this Act." Thereafter the Interstate Commerce Commission issued an order requiring the appellees among others, being parties in control of pipe lines, to file with the Commission, schedules of their rates and charges for the transportation of oil. 24 I.C.C.1. The appellees thereupon brought suit in the Commerce Court to set aside and annul the order, and a preliminary injunction was issued by that court, on the broad ground that the statute applies to every pipe line that crosses a state boundary and that thus construed it is unconstitutional. 204 Fed. Rep. 798. The United States, the Interstate Commerce Commission and other intervening respondents appealed.
The circumstances in which the amendment was passed are known to every one. The Standard Oil Company, a New Jersey corporation, owned the stock of the New York Transit Company, [****18] a pipe line made a common carrier by the laws of New York, and of the National Transit Company, a [**958] Pennsylvania corporation of like character, and by these it connected the Appalachian oil field with its refineries in the east. It owned nearly all the stock of the Ohio Oil [***1470] Company, which connected the Lima-Indiana field with its system; and the National Transit Company, controlled by it, owned nearly all the stock of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company, which ran from the Mid-Continent field in Oklahoma and Kansas and the Caddo field in Louisiana to Indiana and connected with the previously mentioned lines. It also was largely interested in the Tide Water Pipe Company, Limited, which connected with the Appalachian and other fields and pursued the methods of the Standard Oil Company about to be described. By the before mentioned and subordinate [*559] lines the Standard Oil Company had made itself master of the only practicable oil transportation between the oil fields east of California and the Atlantic Ocean and carried much the greater part of the oil between those points. Before the recent dissolution the New York and Pennsylvania Companies had extended [****19] their lines into New Jersey and Maryland to the refineries and the laws of those States did not require them to be common carriers. To meet the present amendment the Standard Oil Company took a conveyance of the New Jersey and Maryland lines, and the common carrier lines now end at insignificant places where there are neither market nor appliances except those of the Standard Oil, by which it would seem that the whole transport of the carriers' lines is received. There is what seems to be merely a formal breach of continuity when the carriers' pipes stop. The change is not material to our view of the case.
Availing itself of its monopoly of the means of transportation the Standard Oil Company refused through its subordinates to carry any oil unless the same was sold to it or to them and through them to it on terms more or less dictated by itself. In this way it made itself master of the fields without the necessity of owning them and carried across half the continent a great subject of international commerce coming from many owners but, by the duress of which the Standard Oil Company was master, carrying it all as its own. The main question is whether the act does and constitutionally [****20] can apply to the several constituents that then had been united into a single line.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
234 U.S. 548 *; 34 S. Ct. 956 **; 58 L. Ed. 1459 ***; 1914 U.S. LEXIS 1107 ****
THE PIPE LINE CASES 1
Prior History: [****1] APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES COMMERCE COURT
oil, transportation, oil company, pipeline, lines, common carrier, refinery, regulation, commerce, purchases, state law, grain, advantages, warehouses, connected, fields, rights, cases, words, own and operate, facilities, interstate, provisions, producers, dictated, elevator, monopoly, railroad, owning, Pipe
Energy & Utilities Law, Pipelines & Transportation, Pipelines, General Overview, Transportation Law, Interstate Commerce, Definition of Commerce, Federal Powers, Tanker Transport, Oil & Petroleum Products, Processing & Refining