Minnesota v. Barber
Annotate this Case
136 U.S. 313 (1890)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U.S. 313 (1890)
Minnesota v. Barber
Argued January 14-15, 1890
Decided May 19, 1890
136 U.S. 313
The statute of Minnesota approved April 16, 1889, entitled
"An act for the protection of the public health by providing for inspection, before slaughtering, of cattle, sheep and swine designed for slaughter for human food,"
is unconstitutional and void so far as it requires, as a condition of sales in Minnesota of fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb or pork, for human food, that the animals from which such meats are taken shall have been inspected in that state before being slaughtered.
In whatever language a statute may be framed, its purpose must be determined by its natural and reasonable effect, and the presumption that it was enacted in good faith for the purpose expressed in the title cannot control the determination of the question whether it is or is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.
This statute of Minnesota, by its necessary operation, practically excludes from the Minnesota market all fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb, or pork, in whatever form and although entirely sound, healthy, and fit for human food, taken from animals slaughtered in other states, and as it thus directly tends to restrict the slaughtering of animals whose meat is to be sold in Minnesota for human food to those engaged in such business in that state, it makes such discrimination against the products and business of other states in favor of the products and business of Minnesota, as interferes with and burdens commerce among the several states.
A law providing for the inspection of animals whose meats are designed for human food cannot be regarded as a rightful exertion of the police power of the state if the inspection prescribed is of such a character, or is burdened with such conditions, as will prevent the introduction into the sound meats the product of animals slaughtered in other states.
A burden imposed upon interstate commerce is not to be sustained simply because the statute imposing it applies alike to the people of all the states, including the people of the state enacting it.
This was a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner had been convicted of a violation of the statute of Minnesota respecting the inspection of fresh meats which will be found at length in the opinion of the Court, post, 136 U. S. 318. The
State of Indiana having passed a similar statute, counsel intervened on behalf of that state and took part in the argument of this case. The Indiana statute will be found in the margin. * The petitioner was discharged from custody, the court below holding the act to be an unconstitutional interference with commerce among the states. The state took this appeal.