Swift & Co. v. United States,
196 U.S. 375 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swift & Co. v. United States, 196 U.S. 375 (1905)

Swift and Company v. United States

No. 103

Argued January 6, 7, 1905

Decided January 30, 1905

196 U.S. 375


A combination of a dominant proportion of the dealers in fresh meat through out the United States not to bid against, or only in conjunction with, each other in order to regulate prices in and induce shipments to the livestock markets in other States, to restrict shipments, establish uniform rules of credit, make uniform and improper rules of cartage, and to get less than lawful rates from railroads to the exclusion of competitors with intent to monopolize commerce among the States is an illegal combination within the meaning and prohibition of the act of July 2, 1890, 26 Stat. 209, and can be restrained and enjoined in an action by the United States.

It does not matter that a combination of this nature embraces restraint and monopoly of trade within a single State if it also embraces and is directed against commerce among the States. Moreover, the effect of such a combination upon interstate commerce is direct, and not accidental, secondary, or remote, as in United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U. S. 1.

Even if the separate elements of such a scheme are lawful, when they are bound together by a common intent as parts of an unlawful scheme to monopolize interstate commerce, the plan may make the parts unlawful.

When cattle are sent for sale from a place in one State, with the expectation

Page 196 U. S. 376

they will end their transit, after purchase, in another State, and when, in effect, they do so with only the interruption necessary to find a purchaser at the stockyards, and when this is a constantly recurring course, it constitutes interstate commerce, and the purchase of the cattle is an incident of such commerce.

A bill in equity, and the demurrer thereto, are neither of them to be read and construed strictly as an indictment, but are to be taken to mean what they fairly convey to a dispassionate reader by a fairly exact use of English speech.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 196 U. S. 390

Primary Holding

Later superseded by the National Labor Relations Board decision, this decision held that local business practices that amount in the aggregate to a stream of commerce can be regulated by the federal government under its commerce power.

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