A state law forbade, under penalties, any person, corporation,
or association, other than a duly authorized and bonded state
weigher, to issue any weight certificate for grain weighed at any
warehouse or elevator where state weighers were stationed, or to
charge for such weighing or certificates. Held:
consistent with the due process and equal protection clauses of the
Fourteenth Amendment as applied to a local corporation, having the
usual powers of a board of trade, which weighed grain and issued
weight certificates, for a charge at the request of its members;
(2) not a burden on interstate commerce as applied to grain
received from or shipped to points without the state; (3) not
superseded by or in conflict with the Federal Grain Standards Act
(August 11, 1916, c. 313, 39 Stat. 482, Part B). Pp. 248 U. S.
269 Mo. 346 affirmed.
Page 248 U. S. 366
The cases is stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.
A statute of Missouri relating to the inspection and weighing of
grain, approved March 20, 1913 (Laws Missouri 1913, pp. 354-373)
and amended March 23, 1915 (Laws Missouri 1915, p. 302), declares
that in cities of more than 75,000 inhabitants, all buildings used
for the storage or transferring of grain of different owners, for a
compensation shall be deemed public warehouses; and, by § 63 (p.
372) thereof, prohibits under severe penalties
"any person, corporation, or association other than a duly
authorized and bonded state weigher to issue any weight certificate
[for any] again weighed at any warehouse or elevator in this state
where duly appointed and qualified state weighers are stationed, .
. . or to make any charge for such weighing, . . . or weight
certificates. . . ."
In June, 1915, an original proceeding in the nature of quo
was brought under this statute at the relation of the
Attorney General in the supreme court of the state against the
Merchants' Exchange, a Missouri corporation with the usual powers
of a board of trade. See House v. Mayes, 219 U.
; Board of Trade v. Christie Grain & Stock
Co., 198 U. S. 236
information stated that St. Louis is a city of more than 75,000
Page 248 U. S. 367
public weighers of grain are maintained there at all public
warehouses and elevators in compliance with the act, and that the
respondent in violation thereof and in abuse of its corporate
franchise maintains a bureau for weighing grain, grants weight
certificates, and makes charges therefor. The prayer is that
respondent be adjudged guilty of these practices and that a fine be
imposed. The return admitted substantially the facts stated in the
information, but alleged that the service were rendered only at the
request of members, that the weighing by its bureau in addition to
that of the public weighers added to the general security, thus
benefitting farmer, dealer, and consumer, that similar weighing
bureaus were maintained by the boards of trade at competing grain
markets, and that the statute, in prohibiting the practice,
deprived its members of liberty and property and of equal
protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The return also set forth that the grain weighed by its bureau was
in large part shipped into or out of the state, that it is
commercially necessary as a part of interstate transit to pass
grain through an elevator where it is weighed, and the issue of
certificates of weight is essential, and that the provisions of the
Missouri act therefore violated the commerce clause of the federal
Constitution. Upon a demurrer to the return, the full court found
the respondent guilty and ordered that it be ousted of the usurped
power of weighing grain received into or discharged from public
warehouses and elevators and of making charges therefor, and of
issuing weight certificates and making charges therefor, and that
the respondent pay costs. 269 Mo. 346. The case comes here on writ
Section 63 of the act does not violate the
Fourteenth Amendment. As the state court has pointed out, the
statute does not prohibit owners of grain from weighing it before
it is went to a public warehouse or after it is removed therefrom.
But the issue of a private weigher's
Page 248 U. S. 368
certificate in addition to the certificate of the public weigher
might lead to embarrassment or confusion or prove a means of
deception. The regulation of weights and measures with a view to
preventing fraud and facilitating commercial transactions is an
exercise of the police power. To require that goods received in or
discharged from public warehouses shall be weighed by public
weighers and that no one else shall issue certificates of or make
charges for weighing under those circumstances is not an
unreasonable or arbitrary exercise of the discretion vested in the
legislature. Compare House v. Mayers, supra; Brodnax v.
Missouri, 219 U. S. 285
can we say that to limit the application of the provision to grain
and hay is an arbitrary discrimination against dealers in those
articles. The fact that respondent is a corporation does not lessen
the scope of the state's police power. We have no occasion to
consider whether it is thereby enlarged.
Section 63 does not violate the commerce clause
of the Constitution. The contention that it does was rested below
solely on the ground that the prohibition, as applied to grain
received from or shipped to points without the state, burdens
interstate commerce. It clearly does not. Pittsburg &
Southern Coal Co. v. Louisiana, 156 U.
; W. W. Cargill Co. v. Minnesota,
180 U. S. 452
the additional contention is made here that all state regulation of
the weighing of grain was superseded by the United States Grain
Standards Act, approved August 11, 1916, 39 Stat. 482. That act
(which is Part B of chapter 313) relates exclusively to the
establishment by the Secretary of Agriculture of standards of
quality and condition. It does not in any way refer to the weighing
of grain. And part B of chapter 313, by § 7 (p. 484), like Part C,
the United States Warehouse Act, which does contain some reference
to weighing, by § 29 (p. 490), makes manifest the purpose of
Page 248 U. S. 369
state laws for the inspection and weighing of grain, but to
cooperate with state officials charged with the enforcement of such
state laws. The Missouri act is not superseded by or in conflict
with the federal legislation.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri is therefore.