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HICKLIN V. CONEY, 290 U. S. 169 (1933)

U.S. Supreme Court

Hicklin v. Coney, 290 U.S. 169 (1933)

Hicklin v. Coney

No. 94

Argued November 17, 1933

Decided December 4, 1933

290 U.S. 169


1. A state may make reasonable regulations as to the use of its highways by private contract carriers, interstate or intrastate, requiring them to pay reasonable license fees and to provide insurance to compensate third persons for injuries caused by negligent operations of such carriers. P. 290 U. S. 171.

2. The South Carolina statute here involved does not compel private contract carriers to become common carriers. Id.

3. Construction of this statute by the state court to the effect that private contract carriers are not required by it to furnish "cargo insurance" held conclusive in this Court. P. 290 U. S. 172.

4. Objection that the statute is fatally indefinite held untenable, its requirements of the party complaining having been defined by construction by the state supreme court. Id.

5. The Court will not pass upon a suggested construction of a state statute and its validity if so construed when the questions, upon the showing made, are purely academic. Id.

Page 290 U. S. 170

6. Fees of reasonable amount, exacted by a private contract carriers using state highways in interstate commerce, for maintaining those highways and as compensation for their use, and which are segregated for that purpose, are not objectionable as placing an undue burden on interstate commerce. P. 290 U. S. 173.

7. Such fees may properly be adjusted according to the carrying capacities of the vehicles. Id.

8. The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid discriminations in a state statute whereby those who use the state highways in the regular business of transporting goods for hire are brought under regulations which do not apply (a) to persons whose chief business is farming or dairying and who, occasionally and not as a regular business, haul farm and dairy products for compensation, and (b) to lumber haulers engaged in transporting lumber or logs from the forests to the shipping points. Smith v. Cahoon, 283 U. S. 553, distinguished. Pp. 290 U. S. 173, 290 U. S. 177.

168 S.C. 440, 167 S.E. 674, affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court of South Carolina in a proceeding brought originally in that court, by the state Railroad Commission, to require the present appellants to conform to the state laws and regulations conditioning their right to use the state highways in the business of hauling freight under private contracts for carriage.

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