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Piedmont & Northern Ry. Co. v. United States, 280 U.S. 469 (1930)

Piedmont & Northern Ry. Co. v. United States

No. 164

Argued January 22, 1930

Decided February 24, 1930

280 U.S. 469


1. An interstate railway, using only electric power, being about to extend its line, and having been notified by the Interstate Commerce Commission that, before doing so, it would be expected to apply for a certificate of public necessity and convenience under § 1, pars. 18-22, of the Interstate Commerce Act, made formal application accordingly, but therein moved that its application be dismissed for want of jurisdiction upon the ground that the railway was an interurban electric railway, exempted by par. 22 from the requirement of such a certificate. The Commission assumed jurisdiction and denied the application on its merits. In a suit to set aside the order, held that, if the Commission had jurisdiction, its order denying the application, being negative in substance as well as in form and infringing no right of the railway, is not subject to judicial review, while, if the Commission lacked jurisdiction, its order is entirely nugatory, and presents no new obstacle to the railway from which it may be relieved by judicial action. P. 280 U. S. 476.

2. A remedy which is in substance a declaratory judgment that the railway is within the exemption contained in paragraph 22 of the Act is not within the statutory or the equity jurisdiction of the federal courts. P. 280 U. S. 477.

3. Where a bill in the district court was dismissed on the merits when it should have been dismissed for want of jurisdiction, the decree must be reversed with directions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction. P. 280 U. S. 478.

30 F.2d 421 reversed.

Appeal from a decree of the district court of three judges dismissing on the merits a suit to set aside, and to enjoin action under, an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Page 280 U. S. 473

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