An Indiana statute provides that the bodies of large dead
animals (not slaughtered for human food) shall be promptly burnt or
buried by the owners, on their premises, or be there by them
delivered to the representative of a disposal plant licensed to do
business within the State and be promptly carried to such plant in
a sanitary vehicle and speedily rendered innocuous.
1. That it is a comprehensive, practical public health measure
within the power of the State. P. 306 U. S.
2. Permission to the owners to sell the carcasses to the
licensed operators for disposition under the Act is not a
precondition by the State that such dead animals are legitimate
articles of commerce. P 306 U. S.
3. Prohibition against hauling such bodies on state highways
except under license to a licensed disposal point in the State,
thereby preventing their transportation out of the State to be
sold, which is not licensable under the Act, is not repugnant to
the commerce clause. P. 306 U. S.
4. The mere power of the Federal Government to regulate
interstate commerce does not disable the States from adopting
reasonable measures designed to secure the health and comfort of
their people. P. 306 U. S. 444
214 Ind. 630; 17 N.E.2d 92, affirmed.
Appeal from a judgment sustaining a conviction of violation of
the Indiana Animals Disposal Act of March 12, 1937, by transporting
a dead horse over a highway of that State and into Illinois without
Page 306 U. S. 440
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Supreme Court of Indiana affirmed a judgment which convicted
appellant of violating section eleven of the Animals Disposal Act
approved March 12, 1937 [Footnote
] (c. 278, Acts 1937) by transporting a dead horse over a
highway of that State and into Illinois without license.
Page 306 U. S. 441
transportation is admitted; also that, while license can be
obtained under prescribed conditions for such transportation within
the state, it is prohibited for points outside.
Section eleven is a part of a comprehensive statute which
requires, and undertakes to regulate, the prompt
Page 306 U. S. 442
disposition of large dead animals (not slaughtered for human
food) under the general supervision of the State Veterinarian. The
obvious purpose of the enactment is to prevent the spread of
disease and the development of nuisances.
The prescribed plan exacts that within twenty-four hours after
death, owners shall bury or burn such bodies on their premises, or
there deliver them to the representative of a disposal plant
licensed to do business within the State. It further directs that
the body shall be promptly carried to such plant in a sanitary
vehicle and speedily rendered innocuous. The conveyance must be
thoroughly and promptly disinfected at the plant.
The validity of the statute was unsuccessfully challenged on the
ground that it unduly discriminates against and burdens interstate
commerce, and thereby violates the Federal Constitution. The
Supreme Court of the State reviewed the statute; pointed out its
purpose to suppress obvious danger to public health; referred to
the means adopted as reasonably appropriate to that end; quoted
from Bowman v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 125 U.
, 125 U. S. 489
] It concluded that
dead bodies of animals not
Page 306 U. S. 443
slaughtered for food are not legitimate subjects of commerce;
that the statute is an appropriate sanitary measure whose effect
upon interstate commerce, if any, is merely incidental.
As the precise point for our determination, counsel for
appellant submit the following:
"The Supreme Court of Indiana erred in holding that the Indiana
Dead Animal Disposal Act of 1937 was valid as a reasonable
regulation or quarantine and not invalid as a discriminatory
prohibition of interstate commerce in commodities recognized as
legitimate articles of intrastate commerce, contrary to Article 1,
Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution of the United States."
It seems plain enough that the challenged statute is a sanitary
and health measure not intended to cause discrimination against, or
to burden, interstate commerce. Its purpose is to promote the
health of the people of the State in feasible ways.
"The power of the state to prescribe regulations which shall
prevent the production within its borders of impure foods, unfit
for use, and such articles as would spread disease and pestilence
is well established. Such articles, it has been declared by this
Court, are not the legitimate subject of trade or commerce, nor
within the protection of the commerce clause of the Constitution. .
. . Nor does it make any difference that such regulations
incidentally affect interstate commerce when the object of the
regulation is not to that end, but is a legitimate attempt to
protect the people of the state."
Sligh v. Kirkwood, 237 U. S. 52
237 U. S.
Here, contrary to what seems to be the insistence of counsel,
the State has not recognized dead horses as legitimate articles of
intrastate commerce. It permits them to be sold only to licensed
operators, who must transport them immediately under strict
sanitary regulations for prompt delivery to a licensed plant there
to be rendered
Page 306 U. S. 444
innocuous without delay by prescribed methods . All this is part
of a workable scheme to secure prompt removal of decaying
carcasses, and thus protect against obvious evils.
We can find no substantial basis for the charge of
discrimination against legitimate interstate commerce. That any
real burden upon commerce which the State is not free to inhibit
will result from the challenged statute seems impossible.
There is no suggestion of conflict with a federal enactment. The
mere power of the Federal Government to regulate interstate
commerce does not disable the States from adopting reasonable
measures designed to secure the health and comfort of their people.
The statute under consideration is an effort to discharge an
obligation to the public; the means adopted we think are clearly
appropriate to this lawful end.
The judgment of the court below must be
Indiana Acts 1937, c. 278:
"Sec. 4. (a) No person shall engage in this state in the
business of operating a disposal plant, as herein defined, without
first obtaining for each such disposal plant so operated by him, or
in his behalf, a license and any vehicle certificates required, as
herein provided, and no person, except one holding a license to
operate such a disposal plant in this state, or who is acting for
such licensee, or who is otherwise excepted by this act, shall
either transport over any highways of this state, or dispose of to
any person, the bodies of any dead animals in any manner herein
prescribed, or in any other manner not permitted by law."
"(b) The said state veterinarian shall keep a record of all
applications for permits, licenses, and vehicle certificates,
showing all thereof issued, denied, or revoked by him, and such
other facts as he may prescribe. . . ."
"Sec. 11. (a) No person, except as herein provided, may haul or
transport over the highways of the Indiana the bodies of any dead
animals, except those that have been slaughtered and are intended
for human food, without first obtaining and holding a license
issued under the provisions of this act and which bodies are being
transported to a disposal plant located in this state and operated
by a person holding a license to engage in such business."
"(b) No license shall be issued to any person solely for the
purpose of transporting the bodies of dead animals, but such
transportation must be done solely by persons holding a license for
disposal plants, so that such dead bodies may be properly and
promptly disposed of under the requirements of this act; except
that any public official of this state, charged by law with such
duties, may remove or supervise the removal of any such dead bodies
and the disposal thereof by any method provided for by this act
where necessary to protect the public health and welfare."
"(c) All vehicles used in the transportation of the bodies of
dead animals, under the provisions of this act shall have a tank or
metal lining in the bed of such vehicle, or be otherwise so
constructed that the same shall be practically watertight, so that
no drippings or seeping from such dead bodies shall escape from
such vehicles where this can be obviated, and all vehicles must
have an end-gate constructed or lined with the same materials, and
hinged at the bottom and fastened firmly at the top when closed and
so designed, so far as practical, that drippings and seepings,
shall not escape from such part of said vehicle while engaged in
such transportation, and every such vehicle shall have a bed of
such depth and type of construction and equipment that any dead
body or bodies therein shall be completely hidden from view of
persons using the highways and any public nuisance obviated while
"(d) The state veterinarian may prescribe specific and also
additional requirements, not inconsistent with the provisions and
purposes of this act, governing and regulating such transportation
and the construction, equipment, maintenance and operation of such
"(e) After the bodies of dead animals have been unloaded from
any vehicle used for the transportation thereof to the disposal
plant, on each trip, such vehicle and all parts thereof, and in the
event draught animals are used to draw such conveyances, the feet
of such animals, shall be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected in
such manner and with such a solution as the state veterinarian
shall prescribe by regulation, and in addition thereto all such
vehicles shall be washed out thoroughly with steam or hot water
after each use thereof in transporting such dead bodies."
"(f) Vehicles, when loaded with the body of an animal which has
died of disease, shall be driven directly to the place of disposal,
except that the driver may stop on the highway for other like dead
bodies, but he shall not drive upon the premises of any person
unless he first obtains the permission of such person and he shall
avoid creating any nuisance during such transportation, and, in the
event any drippings or seepage should escape from such vehicle, to
his knowledge, he shall clean up the same and remedy such escape,
if possible to do so."
"Doubtless, the states have power to provide by law suitable
measures to prevent the introduction into the states of articles of
trade which, on account of their existing condition, would bring in
and spread disease, pestilence, and death, such as rags or other
substances infected with the germs of yellow fever or the virus of
small-pox, or cattle or meat or other provisions that are diseased
or decayed, or otherwise, from their condition and quality, unfit
for human use or consumption. Such articles are not merchantable.
They are not legitimate subjects of trade and commerce. They may be
rightly outlawed as intrinsically and directly the immediate
sources and causes of destruction to human health and life. The
self-protecting power of each state therefore may be rightfully
exerted against their introduction, and such exercises of power
cannot be considered regulations of commerce prohibited by the
Bowman v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 125 U.
, 125 U. S.