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No. 1346. Argued January 14, 15, 1890. – Decided May 19, 1890.
The statute of Minnesota approved April 16, 1889, entitled “an act for the
protection of the public health by providing for inspection, before slaughtering, of cattle, sheep and swine designed for slaughter for human food,” is unconstitutional and void so far ,as it requires, as a condition of sales in Minnesota of fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb or pork, for human food, that the animals, from which such meats are taken,
shall have been inspected in that State before being slaughtered. In whatever language a statute may be framed, its purpose must be deter
mined by its natural and reasonable effect; and the presumption that it was enacted in good faith, for the purpose expressed in the title, cannot control the determination of the question whether it is, or is not, repug
nant to the Constitution of the United States. This statute of Minnesota, by its necessary operation, practically excludes
from the Minnesota market all fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb or pork, in whatever form, and although entirely sound, healthy and fit for human food, taken from animals slaughtered in other States; and as it thus directly tends to restrict the slaughtering of animals, whose meat is to be sold in Minnesota for human food, to those engaged in such business in that State, it makes such discrimination against the products and business of other States in favor of the products and business of Minnesota, as interferes with and burdens commerce among the several
States. A law providing for the inspection of animals, whose meats are designed
for human food, cannot be regarded as a rightful exertion of the police power of the State, if the inspection prescribed is of such a character, or is burdened with such conditions, as will prevent the introduction into the State of sound meats, the product of animals slaughtered in other
States. A burden imposed upon interstate commerce is not to be sustained simply
because the statute imposing it applies alike to the people of all the States, including the people of the State enacting it..
This was a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner had been convicted of a violation of the statute of Minnesota respecting the inspection of fresh meats which will be found at length in the opinion of the court ( post 318). The
Argument for Appellant.
State of Indiana having passed a similar statute, counsel intervened on behalf of that State and took part in the argument of this case. The Indiana statute will be found in the margin? The petitioner was discharged from custody, the court below holding the act to be an unconstitutional interference with commerce among the States. The State took this appeal.
Mr. Gordon E. Cole for appellant. The closing passages in Mr. Cole's brief were as follows:
I sum up the argument thus :
1st. If inspection in life is necessary to 'detect disease, it may be required by state legislation, although it may incidentally affect commerce.
2d. If the legislature deem such inspection necessary, and manifest such an opinion by an enactment requiring it, the presumptions which surround a legislative enactment must
1 INDIANA STATUTE, ACTS 1889, c. 84. An act for the protection of the public health by promoting the growth and sale of healthy cattle and sheep, making it a misdemeanor to sell the same without inspection before the slaughtering within this State, and to authorize cities to appoint inspectors. Approved March 2, 1889.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, That it shall be unlawful to sell, or offer, or expose for sale in any incorporated city within this State, beef, mutton, veal, lamb or pork for human food, except as hereinafter provided, which has not been inspected alive within the county by 'an inspector or his deputy duly appointed by the authorities of said county in which such beef, mutton, veal, lamb or pork is intended for consumption, and found by such inspector to be pure, healthy and merchantable, and for every such offence the accused, after conviction, shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars nor less than ten dollars.
SEC. 2. That the City Council is hereby empowered and required to appoint, in each incorporated city within the county, one or more inspectors and deputies, furnish the necessary blanks and decree the fees for such inspection : Provided, That where farmers slaughter cattle, sheep or swine of their own raising or feeding for human food, no other inspection shall be required, or penalty imposed, than such as are already provided by law to prevent the sale and consumption of diseased meat.
Sec. 3. Nothing herein contained shall prevent or obstruct the sale of cured beef or pork known as dried, corned or canned beef, or smoked or salted pork, or other cured or salted meats.
Argument for Appellant.
sustain it, unless it manifestly on its face has no relation to its professed object.
3d. No evidence can be received in support of or opposition to the law, as was held in Powell v. Pennsylvania ; but if such evidence was competent, the burden of proof is not on those seeking to sustain the law, to show the necessity of inspection in life to detect disease, but upon those who would overthrow it, to show the inadequacy of such inspection, or that the inspection of dressed meats would serve the same purpose.
The party who stands upon presumptions is not required in the first instance to support them by evidence.
A powerful combine has thrown its gauntlet at the sovereignty of the States and is engaged in a grand duello with both State and nation. Shall the right of self preservation, never yet denied to the States by the most rabid advocate of federal supremacy, yield to the selfish greed of a gigantic, moneyed interest, and their power to adopt such measures as are necessary to detect danger be swept away, because commerce in an article in a particular form may be affected thereby, is the question I herewith submit for decision.
Mr. James 0. Broadhead filed a brief on behalf of the appellant.
Mr. W. C. Goudy and Mr. Walter H. Sanborn for appellee.
Mr. George W. McCrary and Mr. Wallace Pratt filed a brief on behalf of the appellee.
Mr. Alpheus H. Snow on behalf of the State of Indiana. Mr. Louis T. Michener, Attorney General of the State of Indiana, Mr. Joseph E. McDonald and Mr. John M. Butler were with him on the brief, which concluded as follows:
We conclude, therefore, that the statute in question is not an unlawful regulation of interstate commerce but an exercise of the police power proper, affecting interstate commerce, in
Argument for Appellant.
a lawful manner and to only a lawful extent, because dressed meat, the commodity which is the subject matter of the legislation, being an article of human food, and hence “usually passing by sale froin hand to hand,” and being capable of a quality, state or condition rendering it dangerous to life, health and property, viz. : to decay, disease and infection in ordinary commercial use without the voluntary coöperation of the citizen whose life, liberty or property is injuriously affected and without blame on his part and hence a proper subject of police regulation by way of inspection; and being incapable of a legal inspection except under the conditions imposed by the statute, is properly subjected to permanent prohibition upon failure to conform to the conditions of inspection; such right of prohibition being a necessary incident of the right of inspection, and being justifiable on the ground that dressed meat, when uninspected as required by the statute, is in a permanently and incurably dangerous condition to life, health and property in its ordinary commercial use, because its true state, condition or quality can never be determined by any rapid, cheap and "crucial test” – that is, by inspection, (by reason of the fact that dressed meat differs from meat in an inspectable condition — that is, in the living animal — only in the subtraction of those indicia which render the dangerous state, condition or quality determinable by inspection,) but only by a judicial examination requiring expense and delay, which judicial examination the State is not required or permitted to provide for, as respects property in its ordinary commercial use, because the expense and delay of such judicial examination to the applicant would equally operate as a prohibition to him upon such use of his property, and because of the expense of the necessary court machinery for making such a great number of judicial examinations as would be necessary would impose so great a burden of taxation upon the community as to violate the constitutional rights of all citizens to their property.
We submit, therefore, that the law under which the appellee was convicted is constitutional, and that the judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States, discharging the
Opinion of the Court.
appellee from custody, was erroneous and ought to be reversed.
MR. JUSTICE Harlan delivered the opinion of the court.
Henry E. Barber, the appellee, was convicted before a justice of the peace in Ramsey County, Minnesota, of the offence of having wrongfully and unlawfully offered and exposed for sale, and of having sold, for human food, one hundred pounds of fresh uncured beef, part of an animal slaughtered in the State of Illinois, but which had not been inspected in Minnesota, and “certified” before slaughter by an inspector appointed under the laws of the latter State. Having been committed to the common jail of the county pursuant to a judgment of imprisonment for the term of thirty days, he sued out a writ of habeas corpus from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Minnesota, and prayed to be discharged from such imprisonment, upon the ground that the statute of that State, approved April 16, 1889, and under which he was prosecuted, was repugnant to the provision of the Constitution giving Congress power to regulate commerce among the several States, as well as to the provision declaring that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. Art. 1, Sec. 8. Art. 4, Sec. 2. The court below, speaking by Judge Nelson, held the statute to be in violation of both of these provisions, and discharged the prisoner from custody. In re Barber, 39 Fed. Rep. 641. A similar conclusion in reference to the same statute had been previously reached by Judge Blodgett, holding the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois. Swift v. Sutphin, 39 Fed. Rep. 630.
From the judgment discharging Barber the State has prosecuted the present appeal. Rev. Stat. § 764; 23 Stat. 437, c. 353.
Attorneys representing persons interested in maintaining the validity of a statute of Indiana, alleged to be similar to that of Minnesota, were allowed to participate in the argument in this court, and to file briefs.