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Morgan v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs representing livestock marketing agencies brought suit against the Secretary of Agriculture regarding an order setting livestock market prices.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. “To give the substance of a hearing, which is for the purpose of making determination upon evidence, the officer who makes the determinations must consider and appraise the evidence which justifies them.â€

    Facts. Fifty consolidated lawsuits were brought to restrain the enforcement of an order of the Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary) fixing the maximum rates to be charged by agencies buying and selling livestock. The plaintiffs had argued that they had not received a proper hearing. The Secretary had issued notice of a hearing on the matter. Evidence was taken for a period of three months, including testimony and exhibits. A subsequent rehearing was held, and the evidence resubmitted, including an oral argument. Requests by the plaintiffs in the case for a report were denied, and findings were not given to them until the order itself was issued. Request for yet another hearing were denied. At trial, specific allegations made by the plaintiff were stricken, and the plaintiffs were ruled against.

    Issue. Whether the allegations should have been stricken.

    Held. No. The Supreme Court of the United States (the Court) noted the import of the allegation that “the Secretary made the rate order without having heard or read any of the evidence, and without having heard the oral arguments or having read or considered the briefs which the plaintiffs submitted.†All of this was given to the Acting Secretary. In the Court’s opinion, because it was “Secretary…assume[d] the responsibility†of issuing the order, it should have been the Secretary who was present for the hearing. The hearing was of “quasi-judicial nature,†and the allegations should not have been stricken.

    Discussion. “The one who decides must hear.â€


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