Bowman v. Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co.
125 U.S. 465 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bowman v. Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co., 125 U.S. 465 (1888)

Bowman v. Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company

No. 798

Submitted January l0, 1887

Decided March 19, 1888

125 U.S. 465

Syllabus

The question whether, when Congress fails to provide a regulation by law as to any particular subject of commerce among the states, it is conclusive of its intention that that subject shall be free from positive regulation, or that, until Congress intervenes, it shall be left to be dealt with by the states, is one to be determined from the circumstances of each case as it arises.

So far as the will of Congress respecting commerce among the states by means of railroads can be determined from its enactment of the provisions of law found in Rev.Stat. § 5258, and Rev.Stat. c. 6, Title 4S, §§ 4252-4289, they are indications of an intention that such transportation of commodities between the states shall be free except when restricted by Congress or by a state with the express permission of Congress.

A state cannot, for the purpose of protecting its people against the evils of intemperance, enact laws which regulate commerce between its people and those of other states of the union unless the consent of Congress, express or implied, is first obtained.

Section 1553 of the Code of the Iowa, as amended by c. 143 of the acts of the 20th General Assembly in 1886 (forbidding common carriers to bring intoxicating liquors into the state from any other state or territory without being first furnished with a certificate, under the seal of the auditor of the county to which it is to be transported or consigned, certifying that the consignee or person to whom it is to be transported or delivered is authorized to sell intoxicating liquors in the county), although adopted without a purpose of affecting interstate commerce but as a part of a general system designed to protect the health and morals of the people against the evils resulting from the unrestricted manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the state, is neither an inspection law nor a quarantine law, but is essentially a regulation of commerce among the states, affecting interstate commerce in an essential and vital part, and, not being sanctioned by the authority, express or implied, of Congress, is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

Whether the right of transportation of an article of commerce from one state to another includes by necessary implication the right of the consignee to sell it in unbroken packages at the place where the transportation terminates, quaere.

Page 125 U. S. 466

This action was begun in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, June 15, 1886, on which day the plaintiffs filed their declaration, as follows:

"George A. Bowman, a citizen of the State of Nebraska, and Fred. W. Bowman, a citizen of the State of Iowa, co-partners, doing business under the name, firm, and style of Bowman Bros. at the City of Marshalltown, State of Iowa, plaintiffs in this suit, by Blum & Blum, their attorneys, complain of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, a citizen of the Northern District of the State of Illinois, having its principal office at the City of Chicago, in said state, defendant in this suit, of a plea of trespass on the case."

"For that whereas the defendant on May 20, 1886, and for a long time previous thereto and thereafter, was possessed of and using and operating a certain railway and was a common carrier of goods and chattels thereon for hire, to-wit, from the City of Chicago, in the State of Illinois, to the City of Council Bluffs, in the State of Iowa."

"That said defendant was at said time and is now a corporation existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Illinois, and that it was and is the duty of said defendant to carry from and to all stations upon its line of railway all freight tendered it for shipment."

"That upon May 20, 1886, the plaintiffs offered to said defendant for shipment over its line of railway and directed to themselves at Marshalltown, Iowa, five thousand barrels of beer which they had procure in the City of Chicago, to be shipped from said city to the City of Marshalltown, in the State of Iowa, which is a station lying and being on said defendant's line of railroad between said Cities of Chicago and Council Bluffs, but the defendant then and there refused to receive said beer or any part thereof for shipment, to the damage of the plaintiffs of ten thousand dollars, and therefore they bring their suit, etc."

"And for that the plaintiffs, neither of whom is an hotel keeper, a keeper of a saloon, eating house, grocery, or confectionery, on the 7th day of July, 1884, and upon several occasions thereafter, presented to the Board of Supervisors of

Page 125 U. S. 467

Marshall county, Iowa, a certificate signed by a majority of the legal electors of Marshalltown, Marshall County, Iowa, which stated that said Fred. W. Bowman is a citizen of said county. That both of said plaintiffs possess a good moral character, and that they (said electors) believe said plaintiffs to be proper persons, and each of them to be a proper person, to buy and sell intoxication liquors for the purposes named in § 1526 of the Iowa Code; that at said time and upon several occasions thereafter, they and each of them, the said plaintiffs, filed a bond in the sum of three thousand dollars with two sureties, which bond was approved by the auditor of said county, as is provided by § 1528 of the Code of Iowa; that thereupon said board of supervisors refused to grant such permission to either of said plaintiffs, or to them jointly"

"And for that whereas the defendant on May 20th, 1886, and for a long time previous thereto and thereafter, was possessed of and using and operating a certain railroad, and was a common carrier of goods and chattels thereon for hire, to-wit, from the City of Chicago, in the State of Illinois, to the City of Council Bluffs, in the State of Iowa."

"That said defendant is a corporation, existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Illinois. That it was the duty of the said defendant to carry from and to all stations upon its line of railway all freight that might be entrusted to it, and that it was the duty of said defendant to transport from said City of Chicago to said City of Marshalltown the five thousand barrels of beer hereinbefore and hereinafter mentioned, which plaintiffs requested it so to transport. That in the commencement of May, 1886, the plaintiffs purchased at the City of Chicago, five thousand barrels of beer at $6.50 per barrel, which beer they intended to send to Marshalltown, Iowa, at which place and vicinity they could have sold said beer at eight dollars per barrel, as the defendant was then and there informed. That on May 20, 1886, said plaintiffs offered for shipment to said defendant railway company said five thousand barrels of beer, directed to said plaintiffs at the City of Marshalltown, in the State of Iowa, and requested said defendant

Page 125 U. S. 468

to ship said beer over its road, with which request the defendant refused to comply, and declined to ship or receive said beer or any part thereof for shipment as aforesaid, the said defendant, by its duly authorized agent, then and there stating that the said defendant company declined to receive said goods for shipment, and would continue to decline to receive said goods or any goods of like character for shipment into the State of Iowa. That on said day, to-wit, May 20, 1886, and for a long time theretofore and since, the plaintiffs were unable to purchase beer in the State of Iowa. That said plaintiffs at said time, could procure no other means of transportation for said beer than said defendant, and that, by reason of the defendant's refusal to transport said beer, plaintiffs were compelled to sell said beer in the City of Chicago at $6.50 per barrel."

"That by reason of said refusal of said defendant to ship said beer, plaintiffs have been damaged in the sum of ten thousand dollars, and therefore they bring their suit,"

etc.

To this declaration the defendant filed the following plea: "Now comes the said defendant, by W. C. Goudy, its attorney, and defends the wrong and injury, jury, when," etc., "and says action non," etc.,

"because it says that the beer in said five thousand barrels in the plaintiff's declaration and in each count thereof mentioned was, at the several times in said declaration mentioned, and still is, intoxicating liquor within the meaning of the statute of Iowa hereinafter set forth. That the City of Marshalltown in said declaration mentioned is within the limits of the State of Iowa. That the said City of Chicago in the said declaration mentioned is in the State of Illinois. That the said beer in said declaration mentioned was offered to this defendant to be transported from the State of Illinois to the State of Iowa."

"That heretofore, to-wit on the 5th day of April, A.D. 1886, the General Assembly of the State of Iowa passed an act entitled"

"An act amendatory of chapter 143 of the Acts of the Twentieth General Assembly, relating to intoxicating liquors and providing for the more effectual suppression of the illegal sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors and

Page 125 U. S. 469

abatement of nuisances,"

"which act is chapter 66 of the Laws of Iowa, passed at the twenty-first General Assembly of said state, and which is printed and published in the Laws of Iowa for the year 1886 at page 81, to which act this defendant hereby refers and makes the same a part of this plea."

"That in and by the tenth section of said act it was and is provided as follows, to-wit:"

" That § 1553 of the Code, as amended and substituted by chapter 143 of the Acts of the Twentieth General Assembly, be, and the same is hereby, repealed, and the following enacted in lieu thereof:"

" SEC. 1553. If any express company, railway company, or any agent or person in the employ of any express company or railway company, or if any common carrier, or any person in the employ of any common carrier, or any person, knowingly bring within this state for any person or persons or corporation, or shall knowingly transport or convey between points, or from one place to another, in this state, for any other person or persons or corporation, and intoxicating liquors without first having been furnished a certificate from and under the seal of the county auditor of the county to which said liquor is to be transported or is consigned for transportation or within which it is to be conveyed from place to place, certifying that the consignee or person to whom said liquor is to be transported, conveyed, or delivered is authorized to sell such intoxicating liquors in such county, such company, corporation, or person so offending, and each of them, and any agent of such company, corporation, or person so offending shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one hundred dollars for each offense, and pay costs of prosecution, and the costs shall include a reasonable attorney fee, to be assessed by the court, which shall be paid into the county fund, and stand committed to the county jail until such fine and costs of prosecution are paid. The offense herein defined shall be held to be complete, and shall be held to have been committed in any County of the state through or to which said intoxicating liquors are transported or in which the same is unloaded for transportation or in which said liquors are conveyed from

Page 125 U. S. 470

place to place or delivered. It shall be the duty of the several county auditors of this state to issue the certificate herein contemplated to any person having such permit, and the certificate so issued shall be truly dated when issued, and shall specify the date at which the permit expires, as shown by the county records."

"And the defendant avers that at the several times mentioned in said declaration, and each of them, the aforesaid section was the law of the State of Iowa in full force and wholly unrepealed, and that the said plaintiffs did not at any time furnish this defendant with a certificate from and under the seal of the County Auditor of the County of Marshall, the same being the county in which said City of Marshalltown is located, and the county to which said beer was offered to be transported, certifying that the person for or to whom the said beer was to be transported, was authorized to sell intoxicating liquors in said County of Marshall, nor was this defendant furnished with any such certificate by any person whatsoever. And the defendant avers that it could not receive said beer for transportation in the manner named and specified in the plaintiff's declaration without violating the law of the State of Iowa above specified and without subjecting itself to the penalties provided in said act, and that this defendant assigned at the time the said beer was offered to it for transportation as aforesaid, as a reason why it could not receive the same, the aforesaid statute of Iowa, which prohibited this defendant from receiving said beer to be transported into the State of Iowa or from transporting the said beer into the State of Iowa."

"And this the said defendant is ready to verify. Wherefore it prays judgment,"

etc.

To this plea the plaintiffs filed a general demurrer, and for cause of demurrer assigned that the statute of Iowa referred to and set out in the plea was unconstitutional and void. The demurrer was overruled and judgment entered thereon against the plaintiffs, to reverse which this writ of error is prosecuted.

Page 125 U. S. 473

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