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166 U.S. 290


No. 67. Argued December 8, 9, 1896 -- Decided March 22, 1897

The dissolution of the freight association does not prevent this court from taking cognizance of the appeal and deciding the case on its merits; as, where parties have entered into an illegal agreement and are acting under it, and there is no adequate remedy at law, and the jurisdiction of the court has attached by the filing of a bill to restrain such or like action under a similar agreement, and a trial has been had and judgment entered, the appellate jurisdiction of this court is not ousted by a simple dissolution of the association, effected subsequently to the entry of judgment in the suit.

While the statutory amount must as a matter of fact be in controversy, yet the fact that it is so need not appear in the bill, but may be shown to the satisfaction of the court.

The provisions respecting contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States or with foreign countries, contained in the act of July 2, 1890, c. 647, "to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies," apply to and cover common carriers by railroad; and a contract between them in restraint of such trade or commerce is prohibited, even though the contract is entered into between competing railroads, only for the purpose of thereby affecting traffic rates for the transportation of persons and property.

The act of February 4, 1887, c. 104, "to regulate commerce," is not inconsistent with the act of July 2, 1890, as it does not confer upon competing railroad companies power to enter into a contract in restraint of trade and commerce, like the one which forms the subject of this suit.

Debates in Congress are not appropriate sources of information, from which to discover the meaning of the language of a statute passed by that body.

The prohibitory provisions of the said act of July 2, 1890, apply to all contracts in restraint of interstate or foreign trade or commerce without exception or limitation; and are not confined to those in which the restraint is unreasonable.

In order to maintain this suit the government is not obliged to show that the agreement in question was entered into for the purpose of restraining trade or commerce, if such restraint is its necessary effect.

This agreement, though legal when made, became illegal on the passage of the act of July 2, 1890, and acts done under it after that statute became operative were done in violation of it.

The fourth section of the act invests the Government with full power and authority to bring such a suit as this; and, if the facts alleged are proved, an injunction should issue.

Mr. Justice Peckham, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.

Mr. Justice White, with whom concurred Mr. Justice Field, Mr. Justice Gray and Mr. Justice Shiras, dissenting.

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