R. J. McLean & Co. v. Denver & Rio Grand R. Co.
203 U.S. 38 (1906)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

R. J. McLean & Co. v. Denver & Rio Grand R. Co., 203 U.S. 38 (1906)

New Mexico ex Rel. E. J. McLean & Company v.

Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company

No. 18

Argued March 14, 15, 1906

Decided October 15, 1906

203 U.S. 38

Syllabus

The right to legislate in the territories being conferred under constitutional authority, by Congress, the passage of a territorial law is the exertion of an authority exercised under the United States, and the validity of such authority is involved where the right of the legislature to pass an act is challenged, and, in such a case, if any sum or value is in dispute, an appeal lies to this Court from the Supreme Court of a territory under § 2 of the Act of March 3, 1885, 23 Stat. 443, even though the sum or value be less than $6,000.

Page 203 U. S. 39

The right of a shipper to have his goods transported by a common carrier is a valuable right measurable in money, and an appeal involving such a right of which this Court otherwise has jurisdiction under § 2 of the Act of March 3, 1885, will not be dismissed because no sum or value is involved.

The provision in § 10, Article I, of the Constitution of the United States that states shall not lay imposts and duties on imports and exports is not contravened by a state inspection law applicable only to goods shipped to other states, and not to goods directly shipped to foreign countries.

A state or territory has the right to legislate for the safety and welfare of its people, which is not taken from it because of the exclusive right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce, and an inspection law affecting interstate commerce is not for that reason invalid unless it is in conflict with an act of Congress or an attempt to regulate interstate commerce. Patapsco Guano Co. v. North Carolina Board of Agriculture,171 U. S. 345, followed.

The law of March 19, 1901, of the Territory of New Mexico making it an offense for any railroad company to receive, for shipment beyond the limits of the territory hides which had not been inspected as required by the law is not unconstitutional as an unwarranted regulation of, or burden on, interstate commerce.

This Court will take judicial notice of the fact that cattle run at large in the great stretches of country in the West, identified only as to ownership by brands, and of the necessity for, and use of, branding of such cattle, and will not strike down state or territorial legislation, essential for prevention of crime, requiring the inspection of hides tax be shipped without the state, although the act does not require such inspection of hides not to be so shipped.

The exercise of the police power may and should have reference to the peculiar situation and needs of the community, and is not necessarily invalid because it may have the effect of levying a tax upon the property affected if its main purpose is to protect the people against fraud and wrong.

The law being otherwise valid, the amount of the inspection fee is not a judicial question; it rests with the legislature to fix the amount, and will only present a valid objection if so unreasonable and disproportionate to the services rendered as to attack the good faith of the law.

78 P. 74 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 203 U. S. 46

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