American Express Co. v. Iowa
Annotate this Case
196 U.S. 133 (1905)
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U.S. Supreme Court
American Express Co. v. Iowa, 196 U.S. 133 (1905)
American Express Co. v. Iowa
Argued December 2, 1904
Decided January 3, 1905
196 U.S. 133
The writ of error in O'Neil v. Vermont, 144 U. S. 344, was dismissed because it did not appear that the commerce clause of the Constitution was relied on in, was called to the attention of, or passed on by, the state court, and the case is inapposite where it appears that the protection of commerce clause was properly set up, relied upon in, and denied by, the state court.
Bowman v. Chicago, 125 U. S. 465, Leisy y. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100, Rhodes v. Iowa, 170 U. S. 412, Vance v. Vandercook Co. No. 1, 170 U. S. 438, rest on the broad principle of the freedom of commerce between the states, of the right of citizens of one state to freely contract to receive and send merchandise from and to another state, and on the want of power of one state to destroy contracts concerning interstate commerce valid in the states where made.
The right of the parties thereto to make a contract, valid in the state where made, for the sale and purchase of merchandise and in so doing to fix the
time when, and condition on which, completed title shall pass is beyond question.
Without passing on the questions whether the property in a C.O.D. shipment is at the risk of buyer or seller and when the sale is completed, a package of intoxicating liquor received by an express company in one state to be carried to another state, and there delivered to the consignee C.O.D. for price of the package and the expressage, is interstate commerce and is under the protection of the commerce clause of the federal Constitution and cannot, prior to its actual delivery to the consignee, be confiscated under prohibitory liquor laws of the state.
The American Express Company received at Rock Island, Illinois, on or about March 29, 1900, four boxes of merchandise to be carried to Tama, Iowa, to be there delivered to four different persons, one of the packages being consigned to each. The shipment was C.O.D., three dollars to be collected on each package, exclusive of thirty-five cents for carriage on each. On March 31, the merchandise reached Tama, and on that day was seized in the hands of the express agent. This was based on an information before a justice of the peace, charging that the packages contained intoxicating liquor held by the express company for sale. The express company and its agent answered, setting up the receipt of the packages in Illinois, not for sale in Iowa, but for carriage and delivery to the consignees. An agreed statement of facts was stipulated admitting the receipt, the carriage, and the holding of the packages as above stated. The seizure was sustained. Appeal was taken to a district court. The express company and its agent amended their answer, specially setting up the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States. There was judgment in favor of the express company, and the State of Iowa appealed to the supreme court and obtained a reversal. 118 Iowa, 447. This writ of error was prosecuted.