Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Interstate Commerce Commission
The United States Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 created the Interstate Commerce Commission. The members of the commission were appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. This was the first of the so-called Fourth Branch agencies. Its aim was to regulate surface transportation (initially railroads, later trucking), to ensure fair prices and regulate other aspects of the conduct of common carriers. The Interstate Commerce Commission started in trouble, since the ICC was given a mandate to manage interstate commerce, but was not authorized to enforce the law. The ICC started as a regulatory body without power, basically. The ICC's powers were expanded by subsequent laws.
Its creation was a result of the 1886 United States Supreme Court case of Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois.
Between 1910 and 1934, the ICC also had the power to regulate interstate telephone services, although it did little to exercise this power. Under the Communications Act of 1934, this authority was transferred to a new Federal Communications Commission.
The Interstate Commerce Commission is often cited as a classic example in which an agency intended to protect consumers is "captured" by the industry that it intended to regulate. The Commission was accused of acting in the interests of the trucking industry by causing prices to be set at artificially high levels and by using regulation to prevent new entrants from competing.
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