Currin v. Wallace
306 U.S. 1 (1939)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Currin v. Wallace, 306 U.S. 1 (1939)

Currin v. Wallace

No. 275

Argued January 4, 1939

Decided January 30, 1939

306 U.S. 1

Syllabus

1. There is an actual controversy in this case between plaintiffs and defendants, respecting the constitutionality of the Tobacco Inspection Act of August 23, 1935, entitling the plaintiffs to invoke the Declaratory Judgment Act. P. 306 U. S. 9.

2. The Tobacco Inspection Act of August 23, 1935, authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to establish standards of tobacco and to designate those auction markets where tobacco bought and sold moves in interstate or foreign commerce, and it provides, under penalty, that at a market so designated, no tobacco shall be offered for sale at auction until it has been inspected and certified by an authorized representative of the Secretary according to such standards. He cannot designate a market unless two-thirds of the growers voting at a prescribed referendum favor it. In case competent inspectors are not available or for other reasons the Secretary is unable to provide for inspection and certification at all auction markets within a type area, he shall first designate those markets where the greatest number of growers may be served with the facilities available. He may suspend inspection and certification at a market he has designated if competent inspectors are not available or the quantity of tobacco is not enough to justify the cost of the service.

Held:

(1) Such regulation, for the protection of sellers or purchasers, or both, is within the commerce power as respects the selling for transportation to other States or abroad, and in view of the manner of the selling at the auctions, where all transactions are conducted indiscriminately and virtually at the same time, Congress

Page 306 U. S. 2

was authorized to apply its regulation to intrastate sales in order to make it effective as to the sales in interstate and foreign commerce. Pp. 306 U. S. 9, 306 U. S. 11.

(2) The auction is a part of the sales consummated, notwithstanding that, in the market practice, the growers are not bound to accept bids, and in some instances reject them. P. 306 U. S. 10.

(3) Regulations under the commerce clause may have the quality of police regulations. P. 306 U. S. 11.

(4) The inspection and grading under the Act, though they take place before the auction, have immediate relation to the sales in interstate and foreign commerce. P. 306 U. S. 12.

(5) The fact that, for want of a sufficient number of experts to inspect and grade the tobacco, but a few of the tobacco auction markets in North Carolina have been designated, with the result that some warehousemen operating such markets are bound by the requirements of inspection and certification, while others, in the same sort of business and competing for the patronage of the same growers, remain free from such requirements, does not render the regulation invalid for discrimination. P. 306 U. S. 13.

(6) Mere lack of uniformity does not invalidate a regulation of interstate or foreign commerce. P. 306 U. S. 14.

(7) The provision for a referendum vote of tobacco growers is merely a condition upon the application of the Congressional regulation, and does not involve unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. P. 306 U. S. 15.

(8) The Act does not involve unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the Secretary of Agriculture. P. 306 U. S. 16.

3. It does not appear that, in this case, the power of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Tobacco Inspection Act was arbitrarily or capriciously used. P. 306 U. S. 18.

4. The claim of the plaintiffs in this case, who are warehousemen and auctioneers selling tobacco on commission for the growers who own the tobacco, that the Act inflicts upon them a loss of patronage and business, was not sustained by proof. P. 306 U. S. 18.

95 F.2d 856 affirmed.

Certiorari, 305 U.S. 584, to review a decree reversing a decree of the District Court, 19 F.Supp. 211, which at the suit of certain warehousemen and auctioneers, enjoined the Secretary of Agriculture and other federal officers from enforcing certain requirements of the Tobacco Inspection Act.

Page 306 U. S. 5

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