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UNITED STATES V. MORGAN, 307 U. S. 183 (1939)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Morgan, 307 U.S. 183 (1939)

United States v. Morgan

No. 221

Argued October 20, 21, 1938

Reargued April 20, 1939

Decided May 15, 1939

307 U.S. 183


1. Where an order of the Secretary of Agriculture fixing stockyards rates was set aside for procedural defects without judicial determination of the reasonableness of the rates fixed by the order, the moneys representing the difference between the scheduled rates in effect and the lower rates of the order, which were required to be paid into the District Court as a condition to the granting of an interlocutory injunction, should on motion of the defendants (the United States and the Secretary of Agriculture) be retained in the registry to await a further and valid determination of reasonable rates by the Secretary in a pending proceeding in which he had reopened on his own motion the proceedings under the Packers and Stockyards Act, and for disposition accordingly. Pp. 307 U. S. 185, 307 U. S. 198.

2. The dominant purpose of the Packers and Stockyards Act is to secure to patrons of the stockyards prescribed stockyard services at just and reasonable rates. P. 307 U. S. 188.

3. In construing a statute setting up an administrative agency and providing for judicial review of its action, court and agency are to be regarded as the means adopted to attain the prescribed end, and, so far as their duties are defined by the words of the statute, those words should be construed to attain that end through coordinated action. P. 307 U. S. 191.

4. In reviewing an order of the Secretary of Agriculture fixing rates under the Packers and Stockyards Act, the District Court sits as

Page 307 U. S. 184

a court of equity, and, in exerting its extraordinary powers to stay execution of the order, and in directing payment into court of so much of the rates in effect as has been found administratively to be excessive, the court assumes the duty of making disposition of the fund in conformity with equitable principles. P. 307 U. S. 191.

5. The Packers and Stockyards Act denounces unreasonable rates as unlawful. Reasonableness of the rates was not established by the filed schedules. And where an order of the Secretary of Agriculture fixing new and lower stockyards rates in substitution for the filed rates has been set aside for lack of due procedure, he remains free under the Act to determine in a reopening of his proceedings what rates will be reasonable for the future and for the period in which the original order was made. Pp. 307 U. S. 195, 307 U. S. 197.

His determination will afford a proper basis for the action of the District Court in making disposition of the fund here in question.

The District Court, in staying the Secretary's order in this case and at the same time arresting excess payments under scheduled rates, acted as a court of equity, charged both with the responsibility of protecting the fund and of disposing of it according to law, and free in the discharge of that duty to use broad discretion in the exercise of its powers in such manner as to avoid an unjust or unlawful result. The duty was the more imperative because the injunction not only deprived the public of the lower rates, but obstructed any effective reparation order by the Secretary under the provisions of the statute. P. 307 U. S. 193.

6. The extent to which a court of equity may grant its aid, and the moulding of its remedies, may be affected by the public interest involved. P. 307 U. S. 194.

24 F.Supp. 214 reversed.

Appeal from an order of the District Court respecting the disposition of funds impounded in the litigation over the validity of the order of the Secretary of Agriculture which this Court held invalid for want of due procedure in Morgan v. United States, 298 U. S. 468, id., 304 U. S. 304 U.S. 1, 304 U. S. 23. The decree permanently enjoined against enforcement of the order but, as permitted by the mandate from this Court, undertook to make proper disposition of the fund. It overruled the motion of the Government and

Page 307 U. S. 185

the Secretary of Agriculture for a stay to await the outcome of further proceedings by the Secretary, and granted a countermotion of the plaintiffs, who had paid the money into court, that it be returned to them.

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