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Brooks-Scanlon Co. v. Railroad Commission, 251 U.S. 396 (1920)

Brooks-Scanlon Company v.

Railroad Commission of Louisiana

No. 38

Argued January 6, 1920

Decided February 2, 1920

251 U.S. 396


A common carrier cannot, under the Fourteenth Amendment, be compelled by a state to continue operation of its railroad at a loss. P. 251 U. S. 399.

Where a railroad serving the public is owned and operated by a lumber company in connection with its lumber business, it is the business of the railroad, and not the entire business of the company, which determines whether the railroad may be abandoned as unprofitable. Id.

A mere suggestion in the opinion of a state court, unsupported by evidence, cannot be taken as a finding of fact in determining the scope and ground of its decision. Id.

Nor can a statement that the court has not jurisdiction to consider relief claimed under the federal Constitution, because the plaintiff has not complied with formalities under the state law, be taken as placing the decision on a state ground when the court actually passes upon and denies the merits of plaintiff's claim, gives relief against plaintiff, and devotes its opinion almost entirely to explaining and justifying such course. P. 251 U. S. 400.

Forms imposed by local law cannot enable court and commissions to do what the federal Constitution forbids. Id.

144 La. 1086 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 251 U. S. 397

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