Consumers' Appeals from Public Service Commission Rate Orders

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Witmer, T. Richard
Fourteenth Amendment; constitutional law; consumers; Consumer Protection Law; Law; Legal Writing and Research
article description
One would hesitate to say that it is a cardinal principal of constitutional law that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects only those who, however strong they are financially, are numerically weak when heads are counted; that if plaintiff is one of the many he not only must exhaust his remedies at the polls be- fore resorting to the courts but must confine himself to those remedies. One would rather believe that judicial review, if it is to exist at all, is available whenever there is need of protecting people, whether few or many, from those who, by election or otherwise, acquire control of the coercive powers of the state. Yet, when set side by side, Sands v. Manistee River Improvement Co. and Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co. v. Minnesota lend an aura of veracity to such a summary statement as the first of these. And in an era when Chief Justice Waite's pronouncement, "For protection against abuses by legislatures the people must resort to the polls, not to the courts," is admittedly a once-upon-a-time story in its own context, its reiteration in almost identical words by the Alabama court in a consumer's suit sounds a bit strange unless one attempts a reconciliation along that line.