Hammond Packing Co. v. Montana
233 U.S. 331 (1914)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Hammond Packing Co. v. Montana, 233 U.S. 331 (1914)

Hammond Packing Co. v. Montana

No. 278

Submitted March 11, 1914

Decided April 13, 1914

233 U.S. 331

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF MONTANA

Syllabus

So long as it does not interfere with interstate commerce, a state may restrict the manufacture of oleomargarine in a way that does not hamper that of butter. The classification is reasonable, and does not offend the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Capital City Dairy Co. v. Ohio,183 U. S. 238.

A state may forbid the manufacture of oleomargarine altogether without violating the due process or equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment. Powell v. Pennsylvania,127 U. S. 678.

A state may express and carry out its policy in restricting and forbidding the manufacture of articles either by police or by revenue legislation. Quong Wing v. Kirkendall,223 U. S. 59.

45 Mon. 343 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of Montana imposing a license tax on the carrying on of the business of selling oleomargarine, are stated in the opinion.

Page 233 U. S. 333

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action to recover a license tax of one cent per pound sold for carrying on the business of selling oleomargarin. The answer, with some allegations not now material, admitted the facts and set up that § 4064 of the Political Code of Montana, as amended, by which the tax was imposed, violates the Fourteenth Amendment. That is the only question raised here, so that other incidental or preliminary matters need not be mentioned. Judgment was entered for the state on the pleadings, and the judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of the state.

The argument for the plaintiff in error is that, the tax being pronounced or assumed by the state courts to be a tax for revenue, it is unjustifiable to put oleomargarin in a class by itself and to discriminate, for instance, between it and butter. But we see no obstacle to doing so in the Constitution of the United States. Apart from interference with commerce among the states, a state may restrict the manufacture of oleomargarin in a way in which it does not hamper that of butter. Capital City Dairy Co. v. Ohio,183 U. S. 238, 183 U. S. 245-246,. It even may forbid the manufacture altogether. Powell v. Pennsylvania,127 U. S. 678. It may express and carry out its

Page 233 U. S. 334

policy as well in a revenue as in a police law. Quong Wing v. Kirkendall,223 U. S. 59, 223 U. S. 62. The case really has been disposed of by previous decisions of this Court. McCray v. United States,195 U. S. 27, 195 U. S. 62-63.

Judgment affirmed.

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