[285 U.S. 240, 241] Mr. Charles H. Bates, of Washington, D. C., for petitioner.
The Attorney General and Mr. Charles B. Rugg, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the United States.
Mr. Justice ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner operates a railway system comprising certain lines of railroad constructed with the aid of congressional grants of public lands. During the years 1920-1923, both inclusive, the company, upon transportation requests issued by the War Department, the Navy Department, and the Marine Corps of the United States, transported military prisoners and their guards; officers of the reserve corps traveling to and from encampments under orders of the Secretary of War; members of the nurse corps of the navy; engineer officers of the War Department in duty in connection with river and harbor works and the California De bris Commission; escorts accompanying the remains of deceased soldiers; enlisted men changing station or returning thereto; officers of the army proceeding to their homes after date of their retirement; and stranded enlisted men of the navy traveling [285 U.S. 240, 242] back to their proper stations. In settling petitioner's accounts for transportation so furnished, or in adjusting those previously settled, the United States, through its disbursing officers, made or required petitioner to make certain deductions from the amounts due at regular commercial fares, on the ground that the persons transported were troops of the United States within the meaning of the applicable land grant laws, appropriation acts, and land grant equalization agreements. Payment on this basis was accepted under protest. Suit was instituted in the Court of Claims to recover the amounts deducted, the claim being that none of the persons with respect to whose transportation deduction had been made came within the purview of the statutes and agreements requiring the company to carry troops of the United States at reduced fares. The Court of Claims entered judgment for the petitioner on certain items of the claim, but as to most of them found in favor of the United States. A petition for certiorari was filed, and the writ was granted, 284 U.S. 611 , 52 S. Ct. 128, 76 L. Ed. -, 'limited to the question raised with respect to Engineer officers of the War Department in performing duties in time of peace in connection with rivers and harbors immprovements and the meetings of the California De bris Commission.'
A portion of what is now petitioner's railroad system was granted aid by the Act of July 27, 1866 (14 Stat. 292). The act made the railroad a post route and military road, the charges of which should be subject to such regulations a Congress might impose. 1 With respect [285 U.S. 240, 243] to the line in question to army appropriation acts provide that such railroad 'having claims against the United States for transportation of troops and munitions of war and military supplies and property ... shall be paid out of the moneys appropriated by the foregoing provisions only on the basis of such rate for the transportation of such troops and munitions of war and military supplies and property as the Secretary of War shall deem just and reasonable under the foregoing provision, such rate not to exceed 50 per centum of the compensation of such government transportation as shall at that time be charged to and paid by private parties to any such company for like and similar transportation; and the amount so fixed to be paid shall be accepted as in full for all demands for such service.'