Interstate Commerce Commission

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Interstate Commerce Commission

(ICC), former independent agency of the U.S. government, established in 1887; it was charged with regulating the economics and services of specified carriers engaged in transportation between states. Surface transportation under the ICC's jurisdiction included railroads, trucking companies, bus lines, freight forwarders, water carriers, oil pipelines, transportation brokers, and express agencies.

The ICC, the first regulatory commission in U.S. history, was established as a result of mounting public indignation in the 1880s against railroad malpractices and abuses (see Granger movementGranger movement,
American agrarian movement taking its name from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, an organization founded in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley and six associates. Its local units were called granges and its members grangers.
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), but until President Theodore RooseveltRoosevelt, Theodore,
1858–1919, 26th President of the United States (1901–9), b. New York City. Early Life and Political Posts

Of a prosperous and distinguished family, Theodore Roosevelt was educated by private tutors and traveled widely.
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, the ICC's effectiveness was limited by the failure of Congress to give it enforcement power, by the Supreme Court's interpretation of its powers, and by the vague language of its enabling act. Beginning with the Hepburn Act (1906), the ICC's jurisdiction was gradually extended beyond railroads to all common carriers except airplanes by 1940. Its enforcement powers to set rates were also progressively extended, through statute and broadened Supreme Court interpretations of the commerce clause of the Constitution, as were its investigative powers for determining fair rates of return on which to base rates. In addition, the ICC was given the task of consolidating railroad systems and managing labor disputes in interstate transport. In the 1950s and 60s the ICC enforced U.S. Supreme Court rulings that required the desegregation of passenger terminal facilities.

The ICC's safety functions were transferred to the Dept. of Transportation when that department was created in 1966; the ICC retained its rate-making and regulatory functions. However, in consonance with the deregulatory movement, the ICC's powers over rates and routes in rails and trucking were curtailed in 1980 by the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carriers Act. Most ICC control over interstate trucking was abandoned in 1994, and the agency was terminated at the end of 1995. Many of its remaining functions were transferred to the new National Surface Transportation Board.

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References in periodicals archive ?
(39) In response to segregation that was deemed legal (40) by states in the post-war era, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 to combat deeply entrenched Jim Crow laws.
6 to the antecedent Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 as amended by the Hepburn Act of 1906, the Mann-Elkins Act of 1910, the Esch-Cummings Act of 1920, and the Willis-Graham Act of 1921.
Economic regulation predicated upon market failure can be dated conveniently to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887,(2) in which the Congress established the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroads in the interests of shippers, principally farmers and small businesses.(3) The legal notion of "affectation with the public interest" dates back much further, of course;(4) and the concept of "market failure" was not introduced in those terms until a good deal later.(5) But it is a useful simplification to say that for roughly eighty years (1885-1965), the market failure story, couched in various terms, was widely accepted.(6)

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