[280 U.S. 420, 423] Messrs. Francis A. Brogan, of Omaha, Neb., and James M. Beck, of Washington, D. C., for appellants.
[280 U.S. 420, 429] The Attorney General and Mr. John Lord O'Brian, Asst. to Atty. Gen., for appellees.
Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Packers and Stockyards Act, August 15, 1921, c. 64, 301-316, 42 Stat. 159, 163-168; U. S. C. tit. 7, 201-217 (7 USCA 201-217), declares that persons engaged in the business of buying or selling in interstate commerce live stock at a stockyard on a commission basis are 'market agencies'; requires such agencies to furnish their services upon reasonable request, without discrimination and at reasonable rates; and confers upon the Secretary of Agriculture the power to determine what are the just and reasonable rates or charges for their services. The Secretary prescribed a tariff of maximum charges for such services at the Omaha Stockyards, effective January 1, 1927. This suit was brought in the federal court for Nebraska, under section 316 (7 USCA 217), to enjoin the enforcement of that order and to set it aside. Fifty-eight concerns, all registered under the act as such market agencies, and together comprising the entire membership of the Omaha Livestock Exchange, joined as plaintiffs. The United States, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Attorney General, and the United States Attorney for Nebraska were made defendants. The prayers were that the order be declared null and void, and that the defendants be enjointed from enforcing it by canceling the registration of the agencies, or by instituting proceedings to enforce the penalties prescribed by the act for violation of an order, or by other means. There were also prayers for a restraining order and for an interlocutory injunction. Compare Stafford v. Wallace, 258 U.S. 495 , 42 S. Ct. 397, 23 A. L. R. 229.
The occasion for the Secretary's order was this: There is no competition among the Omaha market agencies as to rates, since the Exchange rules require all members to [280 U.S. 420, 432] make the same charges for their services. As required by section 306 of the Packers and Stockyards Act (7 USCA 207), the Omaha market agencies had filed with the Packers and stockyards Administration at Washington a schedule of charges known as Omaha Live Stock Exchange tariff No. 1. On January 16, 1926, they filed a new schedule, known as tariff no. 2, which introduced higher rates to become effective January 26, 1926. The Secretary of Agriculture, acting on his own motion, issued, on January 25, an order suspending the operation of the proposed schedule; and gave to the market agencies and others concerned notice of public hearings to be held before an examiner of the Packers and Stockyards Administration, under title 3 of the act (7 USCA 201-217), to inquire into the reasonableness of the new Schedule.