Townsend v. Yeomans - 301 U.S. 441 (1937)
U.S. Supreme Court
Townsend v. Yeomans, 301 U.S. 441 (1937)
Townsend v. Yeomans
Argued May 3, 4, 1937
Decided May 24, 1937
301 U.S. 441
1. The business of tobacco warehouses in Georgia is affected with a public interest, and their charges to growers for handling and selling leaf tobacco are subject to reasonable regulation by the State. P. 301 U. S. 449.
2. Statutory rates or charges are presumed to be reasonable; he who attacks them as confiscatory has the burden of proving them so. P. 301 U. S. 450.
3. A legislature, acting within its sphere, is presumed to know the needs of the people of its State. P. 301 U. S. 451.
The existence of the tobacco industry in Georgia, the transactions of the tobacco markets, and the necessity of protecting the growers from exorbitant warehouse charges must be presumed
to have been fully known to the members of the legislature, and this presumption cannot be overthrown by testimony of individual legislators.
4. Practically all the tobacco grown in Georgia is shipped out of the State in foreign or interstate commerce; the purchasers at the "markets" in Georgia for the most part are manufacturers of cigarettes who immediately have the tobacco transported to their plants outside the State; other purchases made by speculators and warehousemen are for the purpose of resale as soon as possible to the cigarette manufacturers, and thus the tobacco so bought, as well as the rest, is destined for interstate or foreign shipment. Held that, if it be assumed that Congress has authority to regulate charges of the warehousemen, such authority has not been exercised by the Tobacco Inspection Act of August 23, 1935. P. 301 U. S. 452.
5. Congress may circumscribe its regulation of interstate commerce and occupy a limited field, and the intent to supersede the exercise by the its police power as to matters not covered by the Federal legislation is not to be implied unless the latter, fairly interpreted, is in actual conflict with the state law. P. 301 U. S. 454.
6. The Georgia statute here in question, fixing reasonable maximum charges for the services of warehousemen, in aid of the tobacco growers but not attempting to fix the prices for which the tobacco is sold at auction in Georgia or to regulate the activities of purchasers, lays no actual burden upon interstate or foreign commerce in the tobacco. P. 301 U. S. 455.
7. Federal power over a field of interstate commerce may be exclusive, though unexercised, when the subject is such as to demand uniformity of regulation; but, in matters admitting of diversity of local treatment according to local requirements, the States, in the absence of congressional regulation, are at liberty to act. P. 301 U. S. 455.
Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges dismissing a bill in a suit to restrain the enforcement of a statute fixing maximum charges for handling and selling leaf tobacco.