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Great Northern Railway Co. v. Minnesota, 238 U.S. 340 (1915)

Great Northern Railway Company v. Minnesota

No. 225

Argued April 16, 1915

Decided June 14, 1915

238 U.S. 340


An order of a state railroad commission requiring a railroad company to install and maintain scales amounts to a taking of the company's property; and, if the order is arbitrary or unreasonable, the taking is without due process of law and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The facts established must be adequate as a matter of law to support a finding of requisite public necessity in justifying an order of a state railroad commission to require a railroad company to expend money; the mere declaration of the commission is not conclusive.

The business of a railroad is transportation and to supply the public

Page 238 U. S. 341

with conveniences not connected therewith is no part of its ordinary duty.

Even though the state railroad commission may have power conferred by statute to require railroad companies to supply necessary demands of the public along their transportation lines, the Commission may only require them to supply such demands as are within the duty of a railroad company.

Where facilities afforded by a railroad company are at certain of its stations outside of its actual duty to supply but produce discrimination, the railroad commission of the state may not absolutely require it to supply such facilities at every station in order to inhibit discrimination; it must give the company the opportunity of discontinuing furnishing the facilities where. supplied, and thus to avoid discrimination in that manner if it sees fit so to do.

Possessions of a railroad company are subject to its public duty but beyond this and within charter limits, like other owners of private property, the company may control its own affairs.

An order of the Minnesota state Railroad Commission requiring a railroad company to install weighing scales at a station similar to those installed at some of its stations in order to abate discrimination held arbitrary and unreasonable as it did not give the company the alternative right of discontinuing the scales at those stations where they were installed and abating the discrimination in that manner, as the scales while conveniences of the public had no direct part in transportation.

122 Minn. 55, reversed.

The facts, which involve the power of a state Railroad Commission to require a carrier to erect weighing scales at stations, and the validity of an order of the Minnesota Railroad and Warehouse Commission, are stated in the opinion.

Page 238 U. S. 343

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