SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
UNITED STATES v. JOINT TRAFFIC ASSOCIATION.
171 U.S. 505
No. 84. Argued February 24, 25, 1898 -- Decided October 24, 1898
PRIOR HISTORY: APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.
Thirty-one railroad companies, engaged in transportation between Chicago and the Atlantic coast, formed themselves into an association known as the Joint Traffic Association, by which they agreed that the association should have jurisdiction over competitive traffic, except as noted, passing through the western termini of the trunk lines and such other points as might be thereafter designated, and to fix the rates, fares and charges therefor, and from time to time change the same. No party to the agreement was to be permitted to deviate from or change those rates, fares or charges, and its action in that respect was not to affect rates disapproved, except to the extent of its interest therein over its own road. It was further agreed that the powers so conferred upon the managers should be so construed and exercised as not to permit violation of the Interstate Commerce Act, and that the managers should cooperate with the Interstate Commerce Commission to secure stability and uniformity in rates, fares, charges, etc. The managers were given power to decide and enforce the course which should be pursued with connecting companies, not parties to the agreement, which declined or failed to observe the established rates. Assessments were authorized in order to pay expenses, and the agreement was to take effect January 1, 1896, and to continue in existence for five years. The bill, filed on behalf of the United States, sought a judgment declaring that agreement void.
(1) That upon comparing this agreement with the one set forth in United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Association, 166 U.S. 290, the similarity between them suggests that a similar result should be reached in the two cases, as the point now taken was urged in that case, and was then intentionally and necessarily decided;
(2) That so far as the establishment of rates and fares is concerned there is no substantial difference between this agreement and the one set forth in the Trans-Missouri case;
(3) That Congress, with regard to interstate commerce, and in the course of regulating it in the case of railroad corporations, has the power to say that no contract or combination shall be legal, which shall restrain trade and commerce, by shutting out the operation of the general law of competition.
Mr. Justice Peckham, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
Mr. Justice Gray, Mr. Justice Shiras and Mr. Justice White dissented.
Mr. Justice McKenna took no part in the decision of the case.