Front Page Titles (by Subject) § 217.: Regulations affecting interstate commerce.— - A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, vol. 2
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§ 217.: Regulations affecting interstate commerce.— - Christopher G. Tiedeman, A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, vol. 2 
A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint (St. Louis: The F.H. Thomas Law Book Co., 1900). Vol. 2.
Part of: A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, 2 vols.
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Regulations affecting interstate commerce.—
In article I., section 8, clause 3, of the United States constitution, it is provided that Congress shall have power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” In conformity with this constitutional provision, it has been held that, whenever Congress exercises this form of regulation over foreign and interstate commerce, State regulations must invariably give way; and that the regulations by Congress of commerce may descend to the minutest details, providing regulations of the most local character in the exercise of this power. Wherever the regulation of commerce is general and national in character, so that its enforcement in one locality to the exclusion of others would seriously disturb the uniformity of regulation which the national constitution contemplated, the power of Congress is exclusive of all State control, whether the congressional power be exercised or not. But where the proposed regulation of commerce is purposed to protect a local community from the dangers to health and life, or to private rights, which the unregulated prosecution of commerce might threaten, in the absence of congressional regulations, the State may to that end institute the ordinary reasonable police regulations of commerce.1 But when Congress acts, all State regulations must give way in every case in which they conflict with the regulations of Congress.
In this case, as well as in the cases just explained, in which the power of Congress is exclusive, whether Congress has acted or not, the courts of the United States are empowered to employ all the enginery of legal procedure, as well as the national executive, the military forces at his command to remove obstructions to the orderly and peaceable prosecution of interstate commerce and the transmission of the mails, whether these obstructions are caused by State legislation, or by the unauthorized and unlawful acts of individuals.1 Thus, in the absence of a general regulation of the kind by Congress, it is lawful for a State to provide for the inspection of tobacco, which is intended to be shipped to some point outside of the State, it being an ordinary police regulation, not designed to interfere with commerce but to facilitate the detection of fraud in the sale of this article.2
But the provision by State laws for the inspection of articles of interstate commerce opens the door, under the guise of ordinary sanitary regulations, to the covert prohibition or restriction of commerce between the States. While it is an undoubted power of the States, in the absence of Congressional regulation to provide for the safety and health of its inhabitants by the inspection of articles of interstate commerce, and the consequent elimination of all sources of danger to either; the regulations, which are based upon this inspection, must not go to the length of excluding articles of interstate commerce from the State, or operate to their disadvantage, in their competition with the home products of the same kind. The inspection by State officials of illuminating oils and of the tank-cars, in which they are transported, for the purpose of safe-guarding the public against explosions, is a reasonable police regulation, and the owners of the oil, and of the cars, may be charged an inspection fee, to cover the cost to the State of the inspection. And as long as the fee is a reasonable one, serving only to cover the expenses of maintaining the police regulation, it cannot be considered as contravening the constitution of the United States by the imposition of a burden upon interstate commerce. It would, of course, be different, if the amount of the fee was so disproportionate to the expenses of the inspection, as that its exaction was properly construed to be a tax upon interstate commerce.1
A Louisiana regulation for the inspection of all boatloads of coal or coke, which are brought into the State for sale therein, and for the payment of an inspection fee by the seller, has been sustained as a reasonable State regulation.2 The same conclusion was reached concerning a Louisiana requirement of the inspection of flour.3 But when an act of Virginia required the inspection of all flour, which was brought into the State for sale therein, but did not require a similar inspection of flour, which was manufactured within the State, the regulation was declared to be an unconstitutional discrimination against interstate commerce, by the direct imposition of a burden thereon.4
Whenever the amount of the charge for inspection is so large that it amounts to a prohibitory tariff on interstate commerce, it offends the constitution of the United States. Thus, a Virginia statute provided that before fresh meat, which is offered for sale at places distant one hundred miles or more from the place of slaughter, may be lawfully sold, it must be inspected, and the seller must pay, as an inspection fee, one cent per pound for the meat inspected. The Supreme Court of the United States held this to be a burden upon interstate commerce, in violation of the Federal constitution, in that the fee levied was a tax, and was intended, not to cover only the expenses of inspection, but to restrict trade in fresh meat which had been slaughtered at a distance from the place of sale. The court intimated that, if it was demonstrated that meat, slaughtered at a great distance, became unwholesome for consumption as food, the prohibition might be lawful. But, in these days of refrigerated cars, this contention could not be successfully established.1 Other States had enacted laws, prohibiting the sale of the fresh meat of animals which had not been inspected before slaughter within the State; but these laws had been declared to be an unconstitutional prohibition of interstate commerce in fresh meat.2 But the reasonable regulations for the inspection of animals on the hoof, as well as of the fresh meat, after they have been slaughtered, which operate impartially against all classes, do not contravene the national constitution.3
The State may impose upon telephone companies, which are engaged in interstate business, reasonable regulations, which are designed to promote the safety of the local public, without violating the interstate commerce clause of the constitution.4 So, also, may a State law provide that a railroad in its interstate business shall be liable for the loss of goods, or the injury to passengers, which had been occasioned by the negligence of the company’s employees; provided that the State law did not go farther and declare void any agreement for exemption from such liability, which the railroad may have included in the bills of lading, which are used in the interstate business.5
Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 How. 299; State Freight Tax, 15 Wall. 232; Wabash, etc., Railway Co. v. Illinois, 118 U. S. 557; Bowman v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., 125 U. S. 465; Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100; Rhea v. Newport N. & M. V. Ry. Co., 50 Fed. 16; Cardwell v. Bridge Co., 113 U. S. 205.
In re Debs, 158 U. S. 564; Illinois Cent. Ry. Co. v. State of Illinois, 163 U. S. 142.
Turner v. Maryland, 107 U. S. 38.
Willis v. Standard Oil Co., 50 Minn. 290.
State v. Pittsburg & S. Coal Co., 41 La. Ann. 465.
Glover v. Board of Flour Inspectors, 48 Fed. 348.
Voight v. Wright, 141 U. S. 62.
Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U. S. 78. See, also, to the same effect, Farris v. Henderson (Okl.), 33 P. 380; City of Buffalo v. Reavey, 55 N. Y. S. 792; 37 App. Div. 228.
Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U. S. 313; State v. Klein, 126 Ind. 68; Hoffman v. Harvey, 128 Ind. 600; Swift v. Sutphin, 39 Fed. 630.
State v. People’s Slaughterhouse & Refrigerator Co., 46 La. Ann. 1031.
Michigan Telephone Co. v. City of Charlotte, 93 Fed. 11.
Missouri K. & T. Ry. Co. v. McCann, 174 U. S. 580.