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Opinion of the Court.

of society and the well being of its citizens can be set up against the exclusive power of Congress to regulate the operations of foreign and interstate commerce. We have lately expressly decided in the case of Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100, that a state law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors is void when it comes in conflict with the express or implied regulation of interstate commerce by Congress, declaring that the traffic in such liquors as articles of merchandise between the States shall be free. There are, undoubtedly, many things which in their nature are so deleterious or injurious to the lives and health of the people as to lose all benefit of protection as articles or things of commerce, or to be able to claim it only in a modified way: Such things are properly subject to the police power of the State. Chief Justice Marshall in Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419, 443, instances gunpowder as clearly subject to the exercise of the police power in regard to its removal and the place of its storage; and he adds: "The removal or destruction of infectious or unsound articles is, undoubtedly, an exercise of that power, and forms an express exception to the prohibition we are considering. Indeed, the laws of the United States expressly sanction the health laws of a State." Chief Justice Taney in the License Cases, 5 How. 504, 576, took the same distinction when he said: "It has, indeed, been suggested, that, if a State deems the traffic in ardent spirits to be injurious to its citizens, and calculated to introduce immorality, vice and pauperism into the State, it may constitutionally refuse to permit its importation, notwithstanding the laws of Congress; and that a State may do this upon the same principles that it may resist and prevent the introduction of disease, pestilence and pauperism from abroad. But it must be remembered that disease, pestilence and pauperism are not subjects of commerce, although sometimes among its attendant evils. They are not things to be regulated and trafficked in, but to be prevented, as far as human foresight or human means can guard against them. But spirits and distilled liquors are universally admitted to be subjects of ownership and property, and are therefore subjects of exchange, barter

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Opinion of the Court.

and traffic, like any other commodity in which a right of property exists."

But whilst it is only such things as are clearly injurious to the lives and health of the people that are placed beyond the protection of the commercial power of Congress, yet when that power, or some other exclusive power of the Federal government, is not in question, the police power of the State extends to almost everything within its borders; to the suppression of nuisances; to the prohibition of manufactures deemed injurious to the public health; to the prohibition of intoxicating drinks, their manufacture or sale; to the prohibition of lotteries, gambling, horse-racing or anything else that the legislature may deem opposed to the public welfare. Bartemeyer v. Iowa, 18 Wall. 129; Beer Company v. Massachusetts, 97 U. S. 25; Fertilizing Co. v. Hyde Park, 97 U. S. 659; Stone v. Mississippi, 101 U. S. 814; Foster v. Kansas, 112 U. S. 201; Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U. S. 623; Powell v. Pennsylvania, 127 U. S. 678; Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U. S. 1; Kimmish v. Ball, 129 U. S. 217.

It is also within the undoubted province of the state legislature to make regulations with regard to the speed of railroad trains in the neighborhood of cities and towns; with regard to the precautions to be taken in the approach of such trains to bridges, tunnels, deep cuts and sharp curves; and, generally, with regard to all operations in which the lives and health of people may be endangered, even though such regulations affect to some extent the operations of interstate commerce. Such regulations are eminently local in their character, and, in the absence of congressional regulations over the same subject, are free from all constitutional objections, and unquestionably valid.

In view of the foregoing considerations, and of the wellconsidered distinctions that have been drawn between those things that are and those things that are not, within the scope of commercial regulation and protection, it is not difficult to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion on the question now presented to us. The character of police regulation, claimed for the requirements of the statute in question, is certainly not


such as to give them a controlling force over the regulations of interstate commerce which may have been expressly or impliedly adopted by Congress, or such as to exempt them from nullity when repugnant to the exclusive power given to Congress in relation to that commerce. This is abundantly shown by the decisions to which we have already referred, which are clear to the effect that neither licenses nor indirect taxation of any kind, nor any system of state regulation, can be imposed upon interstate any more than upon foreign commerce; and that all acts of legislation producing any such result are, to that extent, unconstitutional and void. And as, in our judgment, the law of Kentucky now under consideration, as applied to the case of the plaintiff in error, is open to this objection, it necessarily follows that the judgment of the Court of Appeals must be reversed.

The judgment is reversed accordingly, and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.


MR. JUSTICE BROWN, not having been a member of the court when the case was argued, took no part in the decision.




No. 92. Submitted November 26, 1890.- Decided May 25, 1891.

The act of Virginia of March, 1867, (now repealed,) as set forth in c. 86, Code of Virginia, ed. 1873, providing that all flour brought into the State and offered for sale therein shall be reviewed, and have the Virginia inspection marked thereon, and imposing a penalty for offering such flour for sale without such review or inspection, is repugnant to the commerce clause of the Constitution, because it is a discriminating law, requiring the inspection of flour brought from other States when it is not required for flour manufactured in Virginia.

Opinion of the Court.

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. James E. Heath for plaintiffs in error.

No appearance for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action brought in 1886, in a justice's court in Norfolk, State of Virginia, by Wright, the defendant in error, against the plaintiffs in error, R. P. Voight & Co., to recover fifteen dollars for fees alleged to be due to the plaintiff for inspection of flour. Judgment was rendered for the plaintiff, and an appeal taken to the corporation court of the city of Norfolk, by which court the judgment was affirmed. This being the highest court of the State in which a decision in the⚫ suit could be had, a writ of error to the same was sued out of this court, and the case is now here for review. The question in the case has respect to the constitutionality of a law of Virginia, passed in March, 1867, by which it was declared as follows: (1) "All flour brought into this State and offered for sale therein shall be reviewed, and have the Virginia inspection marked thereon. (2) Any person or persons selling or offering to sell such flour without review or inspection, as provided in the preceding section, shall be fined the sum of five dollars, for the use of the commonwealth, for each barrel so sold or offered for sale." This law was afterwards carried into the code of 1873, constituting the 10th and 11th sections of the 86th chapter of the said code. The laws also gave to the inspector a fee of two cents for each barrel inspected. There was no law requiring flour manufactured in Virginia to be thus inspected as a condition of selling it or offering it for sale, though by the inspection laws of the State manufacturers of flour might have their flour so inspected if they saw fit. It may be proper to add that the law in question is now repealed.

On the trial of the cause in the corporation court the following bill of exceptions was taken, to wit:

"Be it remembered that upon the trial of this cause the following statement of facts was agreed between the parties, to

Opinion of the Court.

wit: The following facts are agreed in this case to have the same force and effect as if regularly proved by competent proof:

"1st. The plaintiff is the flour inspector for the city of Norfolk, duly appointed and commissioned as such.

"2d. The defendants are wholesale grocery merchants, conducting their business in the said city.

"3d. The bill of the plaintiff is for the inspection of 750 barrels of flour belonging to the defendants, and brought into this State from other States, and inspected as required by c. 86 of the Code of Virginia, edition 1873, before the same was sold or offered for sale and after the same was placed in his storehouse.

"And, to maintain the issue on his part, the plaintiff and appellee, E. T. Wright, read the sections of the statute of Virginia, as set forth in chapter 86 of the Code of Virginia, edition of 1873, in relation to the inspection of flour brought into this State from sister States, and, to maintain the issue on their part, the appellants and defendants, R. P. Voight & Co., read from the commercial clause of the Constitution of the United States, viz., art. I, sec. 8th, clauses 1 and 3, and section 10, clause 2, and art. IV, sec. 2, clause 1, and insisted that the said sections of said statute of the State of Virginia are in conflict with the Constitution of the United States; but the court overruled the objections of the said R. P. Voight & Co., and expressed the opinion that the said statute of the State of Virginia is not in conflict with the said Constitution of the United States, and thereupon gave judgment for the plaintiff; and to this opinion of the court the defendants, R. P. Voight & Co., by their counsel, except and pray that this bill of exceptions may be signed, sealed and made a part of the record in this case, which is accordingly done.


"Judge Corporation Court of the City of Norfolk, Va."

The State of Virginia has had a system of inspection laws from an early period; but they have related to articles produced in the State, and the main purpose of the inspection

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