Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company v. Husen

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United States Supreme Court

95 U.S. 465

Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company  v.  Husen

ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri.

An act of the legislature of Missouri, approved Jan. 23, 1872, 1 Wagner's Stat. 251, provides as follows:--

'SECTION 1. No Texas, Mexican, or Indian cattle shall be driven or otherwise conveyed into or remain in any county in this State, between the first day of March and the first day of November in each year, by any person or persons whatsoever: Provided, that nothing in this section shall apply to any cattle which have been kept the entire previous winter in this State: Provided further, that when such cattle shall come across the line of this State, loaded upon a railroad car or steamboat, and shall pass through this State without being unloaded, such shall not be construed as prohibited by this act; but the railroad company or owners of a steamboat performing such transportation, shall be responsible for all damages which may result from the disease called the Spanish or Texas fever, should the same occur along the line of such transportation; and the existence of such disease along such route shall be prima facie evidence that such disease has been communicated by such transportation.'

'SECT. 9. If any person or persons shall bring into this State any Texas, Mexican, or Indian cattle, in violation of the first section of this act, he or they shall be liable, in all cases, for all damages sustained on account of disease communicated by said cattle.'

Husen brought this action against the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company for damages alleged to have been done him by means of the company's violation of the foregoing act.

On the trial in the Circuit Court for Grundy County it was, among other things, objected by the company that the act was in violation of that part of sect. 8 of art. 1 of the Constitution of the United States which provides that Congress shall have power 'to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.' This objection having been overruled, there was a judgment for the plaintiff; which the Supreme Court on appeal affirmed, holding that the act was 'not contrary in any wise, in regard to this case, to the Constitution of the United States.'

The company then brought the case here.

Mr. James Carr for the plaintiff in error.

That portion of the eighth section and first article of the Constitution of the United States, which provides that Congress shall have power 'to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes,' confers exclusive power on Congress. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; Passenger Cases, 7 How. 283; Ex parte McNiel, 13 Wall. 236; Case of the State Freight Tax, 15 id. 232; Railroad Company v. Fuller, 17 id. 560; Henderson et al. v. Mayor of New York et al., 92 U.S. 259; Chy Lung v. Freeman et al., id. 275; In the Matter of Ah Fang, 1 Cent. Law Jour. 516.

The act in question discriminates against certain propert which may be brought from Texas into Missouri, and absolutely prohibits bringing it into the State between the first day of March and the first day of November in each year. This is no police regulation. If it required an inspection of the cattle at the State line by some competent person, to ascertain their condition, and permitted them, if found free from disease, to be carried into the State, it would not be obnoxious to the objection of regulating inter-state commerce, or of discriminating against a certain species of property coming from a particular section. In its present shape, it is a regulation of interstate commerce as much as is the statute of California, which, inter alia, prohibits vessels from landing 'a lewd or debauched woman,' without first giving the required bond. Chy Lung v. Freeman et al., 92 U.S. 275.

Mr. M. A. Low, contra.

The act, although it may affect, does not in any proper sense regulate, commerce. 'Not every thing which affects commerce is a regulation of it, within the meaning of the Constitution.' State Tax on Railway Gross Receipts, 15 Wall, 284; Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; Passenger Cases, 7 How. 283; Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.

Whilst the power to regulate commerce is granted to Congress, that of establishing interior police regulations belongs to the States. The latter, in conferring the power over interstate commerce, never delegated to Congress that of making police regulations; yet, in exercising the granted power, Congress may incidentally affect or even abrogate those regulations. On the other hand, in establishing them, a State may incidentally affect commerce; but they, when not in conflict with any act of Congress, are valid. These powers are distinct and separate; but it is no objection to a regulation made in pursuance of one of them that it would be appropriate to the exercise of the other. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102; Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36; Foster v. Master and Wardens of the Port of New Orleans, 94 U.S. 246; Gilman v. Philadelphia, 3 Wall. 713; Ex parte McNiel, 13 id. 236; Story, Const., sect. 1070.

'The legislature may, no doubt, prohibit railways from carrying freight which is regarded as detrimental to public health or morals, or the public safety generally.' Thorpe v. Rutland & Burlington Railway, 27 Vt. 140. The power of the States to pass quarantine and inspection laws has never been questioned, and it includes that of prescribing the necessary regulations, as well as the subjects to which they may be applied. The right to impose restraints upon the use and disposal of articles found by experience or upon inspection to be injurious to the health, morals, or general welfare of her citizens belongs to the State. The act is in the nature of a quarantine regulation, and, as such, is valid. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1; Brown v. Maryland, 12 id. 419; Willson v. The Blackbird Creek Marsh Co., 2 Pet. 245; City of New York v. Miln, 11 id. 102; Holmes v. Jennison, 14 id. 615; License Cases, 5 How. 577; Passenger Cases, 7 id. 283; Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 id. 319; License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 462; Pervear v. Commonwealth, id. 475; United States v. Dewitt, 9 id. 41; Ex parte McNiel, 13 id. 236; Case of the State Freight Tax, 15 id. 279; Slaughter-House Cases, 16 id. 36; Railroad Company v. Fuller, 17 id. 560; Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113; Foster v. Master and Wardens, id. 246; City of St. Louis v. Boffinger, 19 Mo. 13; Yeazel v. Alexander, 58 Ill. 254; Cooley, Const. Lim. 584; Potter's Dwarris, 457.

MR. JUSTICE STRONG delivered the opinion of the court.

Notes[edit]

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).