Imágenes de páginas

In Heymann v. Southern R. Co.22 it was held that the delivery of the interstate shipment of intoxicating liquors to their consignees particular. The power of the State to enact inspection laws, provided that such laws are intended in good faith for the protection of the people, and not as a covert means for raising revenue by exorbitant charges, remains precisely as it was before the act was passed.

While we may concede that the liquors in this case had arrived at their destination, it does not follow that they were subject to any law which the State chose to pass in an assumed exercise of the police power. The State has an undoubted right to inspect all goods arriving therein, but it does not follow that it has the right to subject them to an inspection which is no inspection at all, and charge them with a fee out of all proportion to the costs of even a proper inspection, and to call it an exercise of the police power. Though these liquors had arrived at their destination, the State provided that, by § 5 of the act, they should be inspected before offering them for sale and before they had been commingled with the general mass of property. The fact that they had been delivered to the consignee was of no materiality, since the act which the State required should be done was one which applied a condition precedent to their admission to the State for commercial purposes. Until this act was performed, they were protected against an unlawful interference. This inspection might have taken place at the state line, but, for the convenience of the state officers, as well as that of the brewers, it was postponed until the arrival at their destination, as is frequently the case in foreign countries, where imported goods are not examined at the frontier, but at Paris or London, upon their arrival there; but they are not legally entered until such examination takes place. To say that their character as interstate commerce existed at the state line, but had been lost upon their arrival at their place of destination before they had shown themselves entitled to enter the State, is to apply a test wholly irrelevant under the circumstances.

If the inspection were not a bona fide exercise of the police power, it was an unlawful interference with such commerce. Whether the inspection was made at the state line, or at the destination of the goods, it absolutely immaterial.

The consequences of this decision seem to me extremely serious. If the States may, in the assumed exercise of police powers, enact inspection laws, which are not such in fact, and thereby indirectly impose a revenue tax on liquors, it is difficult to see any limit to this power of taxation, or why it may not be applied to any other articles brought within the State, and the cases of Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U. S. 313; 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 862; 34 L. ed. 455, and Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U. S. 78; 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 213; 34 L. ed. 862, be practically overruled. The Wilson Act does not give the legislature any greater authority with respect to the inspection of liquors, and, as already observed, it leaves the question of inspection where it found it. If the Wilson Act receives its natural application — that is, of meeting the exigency created by our decision in Leisy v. Hardin, and enabling the States to enforce their prohibitory liquor laws upon the arrival of the liquor within the State, as we have repeatedly held,the law has a definite and distinct value, and is readily understood.” 22 203 U. S. 270; 27 Sup. Ct. Rep. 104; 51 L. ed. 178.

[ocr errors]





Westel WOODBURY Willoughby, Ph. D.

Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University; Managing Editor
American Political Science Review; Author of “ The American Con-
stitutional System, * The Supreme Court of the United
S.ates: Its Place and Influence in our Consti-
tutional System,” “The Nature of the
State," “Rights and Duties of
American Citizen-

ship,” etc.



« AnteriorContinuar »