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Southern Railway v. Virginia

United States Supreme Court
290 U.S. 190 (1933)


Facts

A Virginia law permitted the Virginia Highway Commissioner (defendant) to order railways to remove crossing grades and build overpasses in their place, when required for public safety. The law permitted the commissioner to order the removal of crossing grades without notice or hearing. The law did not provide for judicial review of the commissioner’s actions but stated that a court of equity could grant relief to a railway if a commissioner’s determination was an arbitrary use of the commissioner’s power. Pursuant to this law, the commissioner, without notice or hearing, ordered Southern Railway (plaintiff) to remove a crossing grade and build an overpass in its place. Southern Railway challenged the determination and argued that the law under which the determination was made was invalid. Specifically, Southern Railway argued that the order deprived it of property without due process. The Virginia Corporation Commission directed Southern Railway to comply with the order, and the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (McReynolds, 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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Dissent (Hughes, C.J.)

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