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Northern Pacific Railway Co. v. United States

United States Supreme Court
356 U.S. 1 (1958)


Facts

By 1949, the Northern Pacific Railway Company (NPR) (defendant) had sold almost all of the 40,000,000 acres of land that Congress had granted to NPR’s predecessor in 1864 and 1870. Most of NPR’s land-sales contracts included preferential-routing provisions that required buyers of the land to ship any goods produced on the land using NPR’s carrier services, so long as NPR’s shipping rates were not more expensive than competitors’ rates. NPR’s agreements had the effect of reducing competition in the market for carrier services in the Northwestern United States. In 1949, the United States brought an action against NPR, alleging that NPR’s preferential-routing provisions violated § 1 of the Sherman Act by unreasonably restraining trade. The district court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, and NPR appealed the decision.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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