Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Co. - 170 U.S. 438 (1898)


U.S. Supreme Court

Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Co. , 170 U.S. 438 (1898)

Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Company (No. 1)

No. 514

Argued March 9-10, 1898

Decided May 9, 1898

170 U.S. 438

Syllabus

It is settled by previous adjudications of this Court:

(1) That the respective states have plenary power to regulate the sale of intoxicating liquors within their borders, and the scope and extent of such regulations depend solely on the judgment of the lawmaking power of the states, provided always they do not transcend the limits of state authority by invading rights which are secured by the Constitution of the United States, and provided further that the regulations as adopted do not operate a discrimination against the rights of residents or citizens of other states of the Union.

(2) That the right to send liquors from one state into another, and the act of sending the same, is interstate commerce, the regulation whereof has been committed by the Constitution of the United States to Congress, and hence that a state law which denies such a right or substantially interferes with or hampers the same is in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.

(3) That the power to ship merchandise from one state into another carries with it, as an incident, the right in the receiver of the goods to sell them in the original packages, any state regulation to the contrary notwithstanding -- that is to say that the goods

Page 170 U. S. 439

received by interstate commerce remain under the shelter of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, until by a sale in the original package they have been commingled with the general mass of property in the state, but, since the passage of the Act of August 8, 1890, c. 728, 26 Stat. 313, which provides

"that all fermented, distilled or other intoxicating liquors or liquids transported into any state or territory, or remaining therein for use, consumption, sale, or storage therein shall, upon arrival in such state or territory, be subject to the operation and effect of the laws of such state or territory enacted in the exercise of its police powers to the same extent and in the same manner as though such liquids or liquors had been produced in such state or territory, and shall not be exempt therefrom by reason of being introduced therein in original packages or otherwise,"

while the receiver of intoxicating liquors in one state, sent from another state, has the constitutional right to receive them for his own use, without regard to the state laws to the contrary, he can no longer assert a right to sell them in the original packages in defiance of state law.

The South Carolina Act of March 5, 1897, No. 340, amending the Act of March 6, 1896, No. 61, is unconstitutional insofar as it compels the resident of the state who desires to order alcoholic liquors for his own use to first communicate his purpose to a state chemist, and insofar as it deprives any nonresident of the right to ship by means of interstate commerce any liquor into South Carolina unless previous authority is obtained from the officers of the State of South Carolina, since as, on the face of these regulations, it is clear that they subject the constitutional right of the nonresident to ship into the state and of the resident in the state to receive for his own use, to conditions which are wholly incompatible with and repugnant to the existence of the right which the statute itself acknowledges.

The bill below was filed by the appellee, a corporation created by the laws of California, and a citizen of that state. It alleged in substance that the corporation was the owner of large vineyards in California, from which it produced well known qualities of pure wines and brandies and other liquors; that through its traveling agent, a citizen of the State of Virginia, it took orders from certain residents of the State of South Carolina residing in the City of Charleston, to deliver to each of them in Charleston certain original packages of wines and brandies, the products of the vineyards of the complainant; that, in consequence of said orders, seventy-three original packages for the customers aforesaid were shipped

Page 170 U. S. 440

in one car, by a contract for continuous interstate carriage from San Francisco to Charleston; that, under a law of South Carolina, known as the "Dispensary Law," certain officers of the State of South Carolina had seized the packages of liquor above described, and prevented the delivery thereof, and openly avowed their intention to continue to levy upon any packages of liquor shipped into the State of South Carolina in violation of the law of the state. The bill moreover alleged another shipment of the same character and a like seizure. The bill then averred as follows:

"And your orator further shows that your orator intends in the course of its said business, as aforesaid, further and in addition to said shipments so ordered by its said customers, in advance as aforesaid, to ship also from San Francisco, California, to its agent in the State of South Carolina and to store and warehouse in the State of South Carolina, and to sell in the State of South Carolina, in the original unbroken packages as imported, as aforesaid, to the residents and citizens of the State of South Carolina, its wines and other liquors, products of its vineyards, as aforesaid, for the lawful use and consumption of the said residents and citizens of the State of South Carolina in the due and lawful exercise of your orator's right of importation of such wines etc., products of its, vineyards, into the State of South Carolina, in lawful intercourse, trade, and commerce with the citizens and residents of the State of South Carolina, under the Constitution and laws of the United States, all of which shipments, as aforesaid, the defendants and other persons claiming to act as state constables and officials threaten to seize, take, and carry away, detain, convert, and sell, to the manifest wrong, damage, and injury of your orator and its trade and business, as aforesaid."

"And your orator further shows that, by and under the terms, principle, policy, and operation of the said dispensary law of the State of South Carolina, as aforesaid, approved March 6, 1896, and amended March 5, 1897, all wines, beers, ales, alcoholic, spirituous, and other intoxicating liquors are subjects of lawful manufacture, barter, sale, export, and import in the State of South Carolina, and have been, are being,

Page 170 U. S. 441

and will continue to be, lawfully used and consumed as a beverage by the citizens and residents of the State of South Carolina."

Averring the avowed purpose of the state officers to continue to seize all liquors thereafter shipped by the complainant into the state to residents therein or for sale in original packages, the bill proceeded to charge that the state law upon which the officers relied was void because repugnant to the Constitution of the United States; that to prevent the continuing wrong which would necessarily arise from the conduct of the state officers, and to avoid a multiplicity of suits, a writ of injunction was necessary, restraining the state officers from interfering with complainant in its shipment of its products to residents of the state on their orders, and also enjoining the state officers from interfering with the complainant in shipping its products from the State of California into the State of South Carolina to its agents there, for the purpose of selling the same in original packages, the provisions of the South Carolina law to the contrary notwithstanding. This mere outline of the averments of the bill suffices to convey an understanding of the controversy which the record presents. A restraining order was granted as prayed for against the designated state officers, and, after due pleadings and proceedings, this restraining order was perpetuated, and a final decree was entered in favor of the complainant in accordance with the prayer of the bill.



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