Kidd v. Pearson

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Kidd v. Pearson by Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1 (1888), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a distinction between manufacturing and commerce meant that an Iowa law which prohibited the manufacture of alcohol (in this case for sale out-of-state) was not unconstitutional in that it did not conflict with the power of the Congress to regulate interstate commerce. — Excerpted from Kidd v. Pearson on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Opinion of the Court
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United States Supreme Court

128 U.S. 1


This is a writ of error to the supreme court of the state of Iowa, allowed by the chief justice thereof, upon the ground that the judgment in the case affirmed the validity of a statute of that state, which the plaintiff in error claimed to be in conflict with the federal constitution. The case arose upon a petition in equity, filed December 24, 1885, in the circuit court of Polk county, Iowa, by defendants in error, I. E. Pearson and S. J. Loughran, against the plaintiff in error, J. S. Kidd, praying that a certain distillery, erected and used by said Kidd for the unlawful manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, be abated as a nuisance, and that the said Kidd be perpetually enjoined from the manufacture therein of all intoxicating liquors. The provisions of the law under which these proceedings were instituted are found in chapter 6, tit. 11, Code Iowa, amended by chapter 143 of the acts of the general assembly in 1884. The sections necessary to be quoted for the purposes of this decision are as follows: Section 1523 provides: "No person shall manufacture or sell by himself, his clerk, steward, or agent, directly or indirectly, any intoxicating liquors, except as hereinafter provided; and the keeping of intoxicating liquors, with intent on the part of the owner thereof, or any person acting under his authority or by his permission, to sell the same within this state, contrary to the provisions of this chapter, is hereby prohibited; and the intoxicating liquor so kept, together with the vessels in which it is contained, is declared a nuisance, and shall be forfeited and dealt with as hereinafter provided." Section 1524 provides: "Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to forbid the sale by the importer thereof of foreign intoxicating liquor imported under the authority of the laws of the United States regarding the importation of such liquors and in accordance of [with] such laws, provided that the said liquor, at the time of said sale by said importer, remains in the original casks or packages and in said quantities only; and nothing contained in this law shall prevent any persons from manufacturing in this state liquors for the purpose of being sold according to the provisions of this chapter, to be used for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, or sacramental purposes." Section 1525 prescribes a penalty for a violation of the law by manufacturers, as follows: "Every person who shall manufacture any intoxicating liquors as in this chapter prohibited, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon his first conviction for said offense shall pay a fine of two hundred dollars and costs of prosecution, or be imprisoned in the county jail not to exceed six months; and on his second and every subsequent conviction for said offense he shall pay a fine of not less that five hundred dollars, nor more than one thousand dollars, and costs of prosecution, and be imprisoned in the county jail one year." Section 1526 defines who may be permitted to manufacture under the law, and for what purpose the manufacture may be carried on, as follows: "Any citizen of the state, except hotel keepers, keepers of saloons, eating houses, grocery keepers, and confectioners, is hereby permitted, within the county of his residence, to manufacture or buy and sell intoxicating liquors for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, or sacramental purposes only, provided he shall first obtain permission from the board of supervisors of the county in which such business is conducted, as follows." Sections 1527 and 1529 provide for the manner of obtaining the permit, and section 1530 sets out the conditions under which it may be granted. It is as follows: "At such final hearing any resident of the county may appear and show cause why such permit should not be granted; and the same shall be refused, unless the board shall be fully satisfied that all the requirements of the law have, in all respects, been fully complied with; that the applicant is a person of good moral character; and that, taking into consideration the wants of the locality and the number of permits already granted, such permit would be necessary and proper for the accommodation of the neighborhood." The manufacturer, like the seller, is required to make monthly reports to the county auditor, the evident purpose of the requirement being to show whether or not the holder of a permit was manufacturing or selling in compliance with the law. Section 1543 provides for proceedings in equity to abate and enjoin unlawful manufacture. The averments of the petition are, in substance, that the distillery described therein was erected by said J. S. Kidd for the manufacture of intoxicating liquors, contrary to the statute of Iowa; that said Kidd had been, ever since the 4th of July, 1884, and is still, engaged in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors, upon the premises aforesaid, for other than mechanical, medicinal, culinary, and sacramental purposes; with the concluding averment 'that the defendant manufactures, keeps for sale, and sells within this state, and at the place aforesaid, intoxicating liquors, to be taken out of that state, and there used as a beverage, and for other purposes than for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, and sacramental purposes, contrary to the statute of Iowa.' Kidd in his answer specifically pleaded that he is now, and has been ever since the 4th of July, 1884, authorized by the board of supervisors to manufacture and sell intoxicating liquors, except as prohibited by law, and that in the manufacture and sale of liquors this defendant has at all times complied with the requirements of the law in that behalf. Upon the trial it was proved by undisputed evidence that Kidd held each year, from July 4, 1884, a permit, regularly issued from the board of supervisors of Polk county, covering the period of the alleged violations of law, authorizing him to manufacture and sell intoxicating liquors for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, and sacramental purposes; that his monthly reports, made on oath, in compliance with the requirements of the law, show that there were no sales for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, and sacramental, or any other purpose, in the state of Iowa; and that all the manufactured liquors were for exportation, and were sold outside of the state of Iowa. A decree was rendered against Kidd, ordering that the said distillery be abated as a nuisance, according to the prayer of the petitioner, and enjoining said Kidd from the manufacture therein of any and all intoxicating liquors. On appeal to the supreme court of Iowa this decree was affirmed by that court. Hence this writ of error.

Benjamin H. Brewster and F. W. Lehman, for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 5-15 intentionally omitted]

C. C. Cole, for defendants in error.

Mr. Justice LAMAR, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).