H. P. Hood & Sons, Inc. v. Du Mond
336 U.S. 525 (1949)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

H. P. Hood & Sons, Inc. v. Du Mond, 336 U.S. 525 (1949)

H. P. Hood & Sons, Inc. v. Du Mond

No. 92

Argued December 13-14, 1948

Decided April 4, 1949

336 U.S. 525

Syllabus

Petitioner, a distributor of milk in Massachusetts operating three receiving plants licensed under the Agriculture & Markets Law of New York, applied to the New York Commissioner for a license for an additional plant. The application was denied on the grounds that the proposed expansion of petitioner's facilities would reduce the supply of milk for local markets and would result in destructive competition in a market already adequately served.

Held: The New York law, so applied, violates the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 336 U. S. 526-545.

1. A State may not promote its own local economic advantages by curtailing the volume of interstate commerce. Pp. 336 U. S. 530-539.

2. The fact that petitioner is licensed to operate its existing plants without condition or limitation as to the quantities of milk it may purchase does not justify denial of the license for an additional plant. Pp. 336 U. S. 539-540.

3. The State's denial of the license on the grounds assigned is not consistent with nor authorized by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act. Pp. 540-545.

297 N.Y. 209, 78 N.E.2d 476, reversed.

Petitioner's application for an extension of its license under the New York Agriculture & Markets Law was denied by the State Commissioner, whose action was affirmed by the New York Court of Appeals over objections to its validity under the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution. 297 N.Y. 209, 78 N.E.2d 476. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 808. Reversed, p. 336 U. S. 545.

Page 336 U. S. 526

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Primary Holding

States may not deliberately set out to help local economic interests by inhibiting interstate commerce and actually achieve that result.

Facts

Since it was supplied with milk by producers in New York State, H.P. Hood & Sons, Inc. established three milk receiving and processing facilities in New York with licenses from that state. However, Hood was based in Boston, and it was refused a license when it sought to open a fourth facility. The state claimed that the area already was adequately served by that industry, and an additional facility would lead to destructive competition. The Milk Commissioner of New York voiced a concern that other existing processing plants would be harmed by losing milk supplies, so the local population would not receive a sufficient supply of milk.

Opinions

Majority

  • Robert Houghwout Jackson (Author)
  • Frederick Moore Vinson
  • Stanley Forman Reed
  • William Orville Douglas
  • Frank Murphy
  • Harold Hitz Burton

While states can regulate against harms to the health and safety of their citizens that stem from interstate commerce, they may not place burdens on interstate commerce simply to further the state's economic well-being. This application of the statute to an out-of-state distributor violates the Commerce Clause and cannot be independently supported by federal legislation that was enacted under the Commerce Clause.

Dissent

  • Felix Frankfurter (Author)
  • Wiley Blount Rutledge

Dissent

  • Hugo Lafayette Black (Author)

Case Commentary

This case set up the burdens and benefits analysis that lies at the core of many dormant Commerce Clause inquiries. A state cannot place excessive burdens on exporting local products in order to benefit its own interests. Free trade among the states is important to the well-being of the nation, and economic protectionist measures generally will not survive unless there is a specific, clearly articulable local interest supporting them.

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