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Emergency Fleet Corp. v. Western Union Tel. Co., 275 U.S. 415 (1928)

Emergency Fleet Corporation v. Western Union Telegraph Company

No. 113

Argued December 2, 5, 1927

Decided January 3, 1928

275 U.S. 415


1. The Fleet Corporation is a department of the government within the meaning of the Post Roads Act, and therefore entitled to the reduced rates fixed by the Postmaster General for telegraphic messages sent over the lines of companies which accepted its provisions, to officials and agents of government departments or to private parties on government business. Pp. 275 U. S. 417, 275 U. S. 426.

2. The practical construction of the Act in this regard is decisive of its meaning. P. 275 U. S. 418.

3. The facts that the Fleet Corporation is in form a private corporation, that, in sending messages, it contracted on its own behalf and is suable on such contracts by the telegraph company, and that it competes in some of its operations with private shipping, held not inconsistent with its being a department of the government within the Post Roads Act in view of its relations, functional and fiscal, to the United States and considering that, if it paid full commercial rates, the burden would fall upon the government. Pp. 275 U. S. 422-424.

4. The Act of June 18, 1910, in broadening the Interstate Commerce Act so as to include telegraph companies, did not abrogate or modify the scope or effect of the Post Roads Act with respect to the allowance of reduced rates to the government. P. 275 U. S. 425.

13 F.2d 308 reversed.

Certiorari, 273 U.S. 681, to a judgment of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, which affirmed a judgment recovered by the Telegraph Company from the Fleet Corporation in the Supreme Court of the District

Page 275 U. S. 416

of Columbia for the difference between the commercial and government rates on telegrams sent by the corporation.

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