Rosenberger v. Pacific Express Co.,
241 U.S. 48 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rosenberger v. Pacific Express Co., 241 U.S. 48 (1916)

Rosenberger v. Pacific Express Company

No. 249

Argued March 8, 1916

Decided April 24, 1916

241 U.S. 48


Speaking generally, the states are without power to directly burden an interstate shipment until after its arrival and delivery and sale in original package, and this rule applies to the movement of intoxicating liquor as to other commodities.

The Wilson Act only modifies this rule as to shipment of intoxicating liquors so as to bring them under state control after delivery, but before sale, in the original package.

The power to make interstate commerce shipments C.O.D. is incidental to right to make the shipment, and an attempt by the state to prohibit contracts to that effect or prevent fulfillment thereof is, as a burden upon, and an interference with, interstate commerce, repugnant to the federal Constitution.

The interstate commerce which is subject to the control of Congress embraces the widest freedom, including the right to make all contracts having a proper relation to the subject.

The power of the state to control interstate C.O.D. shipments prior to the enactment of the United States Penal Code cannot be deduced from the enactment of § 239 of that Code prohibiting them.

Since the enactment, and by virtue of the Wilson Act and the remedial authority thereby conferred by Congress on the states to regulate sales of liquor after arrival in the state and before sale in the original packages, a state has power to prevent solicitation of orders for intoxicating liquors to be shipped from other states. Delamater v. South Dakota, 205 U. S. 93.

The statute of 1907 of Texas imposing special licenses on express companies maintaining offices for C.O.D. shipments of intoxicating liquors is an unconstitutional burden on and interference with interstate commerce, and does not justify an express company accepting such a shipment from refusing to deliver the same, and, in this case, held that such refusal amounted to conversion of the goods.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the commerce clause of the federal Constitution of the

Page 241 U. S. 49

statute of the Texas imposing licenses on places of business of express companies where intoxicating liquors are delivered C.O.D., are stated in the opinion.

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