Jay Burns Baking Co. v. Bryan
Annotate this Case
264 U.S. 504 (1924)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Jay Burns Baking Co. v. Bryan, 264 U.S. 504 (1924)
Jay Burns Baking Company v. Bryan
Argued October 19, 1923
Decided April 14, 1924
264 U.S. 504
1. The power of a state to protect the public from imposition by sale of short-weight loaves of bread cannot be exerted in such a way as arbitrarily to prohibit or interfere with, or impose unreasonable
and unnecessary restrictions upon, the business of making and selling it. P. 264 U. S. 513.
2. It is the duty of the court to determine whether a regulation challenged under the Constitution has a reasonable relation to, and a real tendency to accomplish, the purpose for which it was enacted. Id.
3. A statute of Nebraska prescribes the minimum weights of loaves of bread to be made or offered for sale in the state, and, in order to prevent the palming off of smaller for larger sizes, fixes a maximum for each class, by allowing a "tolerance" of only two ounces per pound in excess of the minimum, the weights to be determined by averaging loaves of each class in lots of twenty-five, and to apply for twenty-four hours after baking. The evidence demonstrated that owing to normal evaporation from bread under conditions of temperature and humidity often prevailing in Nebraska, it is impossible to manufacture good bread in the regular way without frequently exceeding the prescribed tolerance and incurring the burden of penalties prescribed by the statute, and that compliance would necessitate selection of ingredients making an inferior and unsalable bread, or wrapping the loaves, although wrapping is not required by the statute and unwrapped loaves are wholesome food in much demand by consumers. Held, that, in the circumstances, the provision that average weights shall not exceed these maxima is not necessary to protect purchasers against imposition and fraud by short weights, and not calculated to effectuate that purpose, and that it subjects bakers and sellers of bread to restrictions essentially unreasonable and arbitrary, and is therefore repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 514.
108 Neb. 674 reversed.
Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirming a decree dismissing a suit brought by bakers and sellers of bread against state officials to restrain enforcement of a statute regulating the weights of loaves.