• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In striking down a state law regulating railroad pricing policies, the Supreme Court encouraged Congress to enact national standards.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, state legislatures used their police powers to regulate the intrastate commerce of railroads, and the railroads faced great confusion and inconsistencies as they crossed state lines. In 1852 the Supreme Court had ruled that states could enact indirect but not direct burdens on interstate commerce. In the Wabash case, the issue was an Illinois law that prohibited a difference between long-haul and short-haul rates, and the Court ruled that such rate regulations placed a direct burden on the federal commerce power. In response to the decision, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce ActInterstate Commerce Act of 1887, which established the first independent federal agency for regulating businesses. In the 1930’s, the Court gave up the direct versus indirect test in favor of a functional balancing approach.Commerce, regulation of;Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois[Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois]

Commerce, regulation of

Cooley v. Board of Wardens of the Port of Philadelphia

Federalism

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