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JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

doubt that Congress intended its requirement for enforcement to depend entirely upon which party goes to court first.


MR. JUSTICE Black concurs in the judgment and opinion of the Court, except that he thinks the Commission's order should expressly except from its prohibitions differentials which merely make allowances for differences in the cost of manufacture, sale, or delivery, or which are made in good faith to meet an equally low price of a competitor.

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, not having heard the argument, owing to illness, took no part in the disposition of this case.

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS dissents from the denial of enforcement of the order.

MR. JUSTICE Jackson, dissenting in No. 504.

The Federal Trade Commission, in July of 1943, instituted before itself a proceeding against petitioner on a charge of discriminating in price between customers in violation of subsection (a) of § 2 of the Clayton Act as amended by the Robinson-Patman Act, approved June 19, 1936, 15 U.S. C. $ 13 (a).

Several violations were proved and admitted to have occurred in 1941. No serious opposition was offered to an order to cease and desist from such discriminations, but petitioner did object to being ordered to cease types of violations it never had begun and asked that any order include a clause to the effect that it did not forbid the price differentials between customers which are expressly allowed by statute.


JACKSON, J., dissenting.

However, the Commission refused to include such a provision as "unnecessary to assure respondent (petitioner here] its full legal rights.” It also rejected the

" specific and limited order recommended by its Examiner and substituted a sweeping general order to “cease and desist from discriminating in price: By selling such products of like grade and quality to any purchaser at prices lower than those granted other purchasers who in fact compete with the favored purchaser in the resale or distribution of such products.” It wrote no opinion and gave only the most cryptic reasons in its findings.

On proceedings for review, petitioner attacked this order for its indeterminateness and its prohibition of differentials allowed by statute. The Court of Appeals, however, affirmed, saying:

"We sympathize with the petitioner's position and can realize the difficulties of conducting business under such general prohibitions. Nevertheless we are convinced that the cause of the trouble is the Act itself, which is vague and general in its wording and which cannot be translated with assurance into

any detailed set of guiding yardsticks. This appraisal of the result of almost ten years of litigation exposes a grave deficiency either in the Act itself or in the administrative process by which it has been applied. Admitting that the statute is "vague and general in its wording,” it does not follow that a cease and desist order implementing it should be. I think such an outcome of administrative proceedings is not acceptable. We would rectify and advance the administrative proc


1 A comprehensive study has pointed out the early failure of this Commission (and it applies as well to others) to clarify and develop the law and thereby avoid litigation by careful published opinions. Henderson, The Federal Trade Commission, 334.

2 Ruberoid Co. v. Federal Trade Commission, 189 F. 2d 893, 894.

JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

ess, which has become an indispensable adjunct to modern government, by returning this case to the Commission to perform its most useful function in administering an admittedly complicated Act.

If the Court of Appeals were correct, it would mean that the intercession of the administrative process between the Congress and the Court does nothing either to define petitioner's duties and liabilities or to impose sanctions. Congress might as well have declared, in these comprehensive terms, a duty not to discriminate and provided for prosecution of violations in the courts. That, of course, would impose on the courts the task of determining the meaning and application of the law to the facts. But that is just the task that this order imposes upon the courts in event of a contempt proceeding. The courts have derived no more detailed "guiding yardsticks” from the Commission than from Congress. On the contrary, the ultimate enforcement is further confused by the administrative proceeding, because it winds up with an order which literally forbids what the Act expressly allows and thus adds to the difficulty of eventual sanctions should they become necessary.

If the unsound result here were an isolated example of malaise in the administrative scheme, its tolerance by the Court would be less troubling, though no less wrong. But I think its decision may encourage a deterioration of the administrative process of which this case is symptomatic and which invites invasion of the independent agency administrative field by executive agencies. Other symptoms, betokening the same basic confusion, are the numerous occasions when administrative findings are inadequate for purposes of review and recent instances in which part of the government appears before us fighting another part—usually a wholly executive-controlled agency attacking one of the independent administrative agencies——the Departments of Agriculture (Secretary of


JACKSON, J., dissenting.

Agriculture v. United States et al., No. 710, now pending in this Court) and Justice (United States v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 337 U. S. 426) against the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Department of Justice against the Maritime Commission (Far East Conference v. United States, 342 U. S. 570), the Secretary of the Interior against the Federal Power Commission (United States ex rel. Chapman v. Federal Power Commission, No. 658, now pending in this Court, certiorari granted 343 U. S. 941). Abstract propositions may not solve concrete cases, but, when basic confusion is responsible for a particular result, resort to the fundamental principles which determine the position of the administrative process in our system may help to illuminate the shortcomings of that result.


The Act, like many regulatory measures, sketches a general outline which contemplates its completion and clarification by the administrative process before court review or enforcement.

This section of the Act admittedly is complicated and vague in itself and even more so in its context. Indeed, the Court of Appeals seems to have thought it almost beyond understanding. By the Act, nothing is commanded to be done or omitted unconditionally, and no conduct or omission is per se punishable. The commercial discriminations which it forbids are those only which meet three statutory conditions and survive the test of five statutory provisos. To determine which of its overlapping and conflicting policies shall govern a particular case involves inquiry into grades and qualities of goods, discriminations and their economic effects on interstate commerce, competition between customers, the economic effect of price differentials to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly, allowance for differences in cost of

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JACKSON, J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

manufacturing, sale or delivery and good faith in meeting of the price, services or facilities of competitors.

This Act exemplifies the complexity of the modern lawmaking task and a common technique for regulatory legislation. It is typical of instances where the Congress cannot itself make every choice between possible lines of policy. It must legislate in generalities and delegate the final detailed choices to some authority with considerable latitude to conform its orders to administrative as well as legislative policies.

The large importance that policy and expertise were expected to play in reducing this Act to "guiding yardsticks” is evidenced by the fact that authority to enforce the section is not confided to a single body for all industries but is dispersed among four administrative agencies which deal with special types of commerce besides the Federal Trade Commission."

A seller may violate this section of the Act without guilty knowledge or intent and may unwittingly subject himself to a cease and desist order. But neither violation of the Act nor of the order will call for criminal sanctions; neither is even enforceable on behalf of the United States by injunction until after an administrative proceeding has resulted in a cease and desist order and it has been reviewed and affirmed, if review be sought, by the Court of Appeals. Only an enforcement order issued from the court carries public sanctions, and its violation is punishable as a contempt.

3 15 U. S. C. § 21 vests enforcement in the Interstate Commerce Commission where applicable to certain regulated common carriers; in the Federal Communications Commission as to wire and radio communications; Civil Aeronautics Board as to air carriers; Federal Reserve Board as to banks, etc., and Federal Trade Commission as to all other types of commerce.

+ 15 U.S. C. $21.

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