deem it essential in cases involving a review of orders of the Commission for the courts to decline to make that determination without the basic jurisdictional findings first having been made by the Commission.
"* * * In the application of the doctrine of the Shreveport [ Houston, E. & W.T.R. Co. v. United States, 234 U.S. 342, 34 S. Ct. 833, 58 L. Ed. 1341] case, this Court has required the Commission to show meticulous respect for the interests of the States. It has insisted on a 'suitable regard to the principle that, whenever the federal power is exerted within what would otherwise be the domain of state power, the justification of the exercise of the federal power must clearly appear.' Florida v. United States, 282 U.S. 194, 211, 212, 51 S. Ct. 119, 124, 75 L. Ed. 291. In that case this Court set aside an intrastate rate order of the Commission because of the 'lack of the basic or essential findings required to support the Commission's order.' Id., 282 U.S. at page 215, 51 S. Ct. at page 125, 75 L. Ed. 291. The principle of the Florida case is applicable here. The question is not merely one of elaborating the grounds of decision and bringing into focus what is vague and obscure. See United States v. Chicago, M., St. P. & P.R. Co., 294 U.S. 499, 55 S. Ct. 462, 79 L. Ed. 1023. Cf. Securities & Exchange Commission v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 63 S. Ct. 454 [87 L. Ed. 626]. Here as in the Florida case the problem is whether the courts should supply the requisite jurisdictional findings which the Commission did not make and to which it even failed to make any reference.
"* * * The Congress has entrusted to the Commission the initial responsibility for determining through application of the statutory standards the appropriate line between the federal and state domains. Proper regard for the rightful concern of local interests in the management of local transportation facilities makes desirable the requirement that federal power be exercised only where the statutory authority affirmatively appears. The sacrifice of these legitimate local interests may be as readily achieved through the Commission's oversight or neglect ( Illinois Commerce Commission v. Thomson, 318 U.S. 675, 63 S. Ct. 834 [87 L. Ed. 1075]), as by improper findings. The insistence that the Commission make these jurisdictional findings before it undertakes to act not only gives added assurance that the local interests for which Congress expressed its solicitude will be safe-guarded. It also gives to the reviewing courts the assistance of an expert judgment on a knotty phase of a technical subject.
"We are asked to presume that the Commission, knowing the limit of its authority, considered this jurisdictional question and decided to act because of its conviction that this branch line was not exempt by reason of § 1(22). But that is to deal too cavalierly with the Congressional mandate and with the local interests which are pressing for recognition. Where a federal agency is authorized to invoke an overriding federal power except in certain prescribed situations and then to leave the problem to traditional state control, the existence of federal authority to act should appear affirmatively and not rest on inference alone.
"This is not to insist on formalities and to burden the administrative process with ritualistic requirements. It entails a matter of great substance. It requires the Commission to heed the mandates of the Act and to make the expert determinations which are conditions precedent to its authority to act.
"We intimate no opinion on the merits of the controversy. For in absence of the requisite jurisdictional findings we think the order of the Commission should have been set aside."
Inasmuch, then, as we are of the opinion that the Commission had no jurisdiction, unless it be necessary to carry out the national transportation policy, and, as the Commission has made no findings to support that conclusion, the order of the Commission should be set aside.
It is unnecessary to pass upon other questions raised in the pleadings.
An order will be entered directing the defendant Interstate Commerce Commission to set aside the order of July 3, 1943, and perpetually enjoining its enforcement.
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