170 U.S. 412 (1898), 21, Rhodes v. Iowa

Docket Nº:No. 21
Citation:170 U.S. 412, 18 S.Ct. 664, 42 L.Ed. 1088
Party Name:Rhodes v. Iowa
Case Date:May 09, 1898
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 412

170 U.S. 412 (1898)

18 S.Ct. 664, 42 L.Ed. 1088




No. 21

United States Supreme Court

May 9, 1898

Argued February 23, 1898




Section 1553 of the Code of Iowa, which provides that

if any express company, railway company, or any agent or person in the employ of any express company, or of any common carrier, or any person in the employ of any common carrier, or if any other person shall transport or convey between points, or from one place to another within this state, for any other person or persons or corporation, any intoxicating liquors, without having first been furnished with a certificate from and under the seal of the county auditor of the county to which said liquor is to be transported or is consigned for transportation, or within which it is to be conveyed from place to place, certifying that the consignee or person to whom said liquor is to be transported, conveyed or delivered is authorized to sell such intoxicating liquors in such county, such company, corporation or person so offending, and each of them, and any agent of said company, corporation or person so offending, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of one hundred dollars for each offense and pay costs of prosecution, and the costs shall include a reasonable attorney fee to be assessed by the court, which shall be paid into the county fund, and stand committed to the county jail until such fine and costs of prosecution are paid,

cannot be held to apply to a box of spirituous liquors, shipped by rail from a point in Illinois to a citizen of Iowa at his residence in that state while in transit from its point of shipment to its delivery to the consignee, without causing the Iowa Law to be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

Moving such goods in the station from the platform on which they are put on arrival to the freight warehouse is a part of the interstate commerce transportation.

The case is stated in the opinion.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company was, in 1891, a common carrier, incorporated under the law of

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Illinois, and operated among others, a line of railway from Dallas, Illinois, to Burlington, Iowa and beyond said point. The Burlington & Western Railway Company was at the same date, a common carrier, incorporated under the law of Iowa, and operated a line of railway from Burlington, Iowa, to Oskaloosa, in that state, with stations at intervening points, one of which was Brighton, in Washington County. Both of these corporations had a depot at Burlington, which they jointly used. The two carriers had at the time stated, and for years previous thereto, between themselves, joint freight tariffs, by which transportation under a single through waybill was given to merchandise from any station on either of the lines to any station on the line of the other.

In August, 1891, the Dallas Transportation Company delivered to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at Dallas, Illinois, a wooden box, stated to contain groceries, consigned to William Horn, Brighton, Iowa. It had been the habit of the agent of the Dallas Company before this date to ship intoxicating liquors over the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The box in question was receipted for as through freight, and was billed through in accordance with the custom above stated, was taken to Burlington, Iowa, there delivered to the Burlington & Western Company, by who it was carried to Brighton. On its arrival there, the package was placed by the trainmen on the station platform, and shortly afterwards the plaintiff in error, who was the station agent of the Burlington & Western, in the discharge of his duties, opened the door of the freight house, and moved the box into a freight warehouse, which was about six feet from the platform. In about an hour thereafter, the box was seized by a constable under a search warrant, on the ground that it contained intoxicating liquors, which proved to be the truth, and subsequently the liquor was condemned, and ordered to be destroyed, and the order was executed. At the time of the seizure, the freight charge due to the railways was unpaid. It was admitted that there was nothing on the package to notify the receiving railway of its contents, unless such knowledge can be imputed from the nature of the previous dealings of the Dallas Company

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with the railway. There was, however, testimony showing that the railroad agent who moved the box from the freight platform to the warehouse had reason to know or suspect that it contained liquor, since it was proven that, before the arrival of the box at Brighton, a mail carrier called at the station, and asked for a package consigned to William Horn, stating that one was expected from Dallas, and that it would contain intoxicating liquor.

The plaintiff in error was proceeded against by information before a justice of the peace, charging him with the unlawful transportation of intoxicating liquors conveyed from Burlington to Brighton, Iowa. This prosecution was under the provisions of the statutes of the State of Iowa to which we shall hereafter refer. He was convicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of $100. An appeal from this sentence was taken to the district court, where it was affirmed, in which court, among other defenses, it was alleged that the package in question was not subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Iowa because, at the time of its removal from the platform to the freight warehouse, [18 S.Ct. 665] it was in course of interstate commerce transportation. The district court having affirmed the conviction, an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa, where the judgment below was also affirmed. State v. Rhodes, 90 Ia. 496. To this judgment of affirmance this writ of error is prosecuted.

The sole question presented for consideration is whether the statute of the State of Iowa can be held to apply to the box in question while it was in transit from its point of shipment, Dallas, Illinois, to its delivery to the consignee at the point to which it was consigned -- that is to say, whether the law of the State of Iowa can be made to apply to a shipment from the State of Illinois, before the arrival and delivery of the merchandise, without causing the Iowa law to be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

In Bowman v. Chicago & Northwestern Railway, 1888, 125 U.S. 465, this Court was called upon to determine the validity of a statute of the State of Iowa which it was asserted was repugnant to the third clause of Section 8 of Article I of the

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Constitution of the United States because its provisions amounted to a regulation of interstate commerce. The facts upon which the controversy then presented arose were briefly as follows: kegs of beer were offered in the State of Illinois to a common carrier operating a line of railway in the states of Illinois and Iowa. The beer was consigned to a point in Iowa, and the carrier refused to receive it on the ground that the statute of Iowa made it unlawful to bring intoxicating liquors within the limits of that state except when accompanied with a specified certificate, which the Iowa law provided should be granted under particular and exceptional conditions. The one by whom the beer was tendered to the carrier in the State of Illinois thereupon sued the railroad company for the damages claimed to have arisen from its refusal to receive and carry the merchandise. The railway company defended on the ground that it was justified in its refusal because of the provision of the Iowa statute. This, on the other hand, was asserted not to be an adequate defense, because it was claimed that the Iowa statute was wholly void, as it constituted a regulation of interstate commerce. The sole issue arising therefrom was whether the Iowa law protected the refusing carrier, and thus involved determining whether the statute of the state was repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. After great consideration, it was held that the law of the State of Iowa, insofar as it affected interstate commerce, was repugnant to the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, and was void. It was decided that the transportation of merchandise from one state into and across another was interstate commerce, and was protected from the operation of state laws from the moment of shipment while in transit and up to the ending of the journey by the delivery of the goods to the consignee at the place to which they were consigned. The Court, in the course of its opinion, adverted to the question whether goods so shipped continued to be protected by the interstate commerce clause after their delivery to the consignee, and up to and including their sale in the original package by the one to whom they had been delivered, but did not decide the question, as it was

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not essential to do so. Referring to the subject, however, the Court said (pp. 499, 500):

It might be very convenient and useful in the execution of the policy of prohibition within the state to extend the powers of the state beyond its territorial limits. But such extraterritorial powers cannot be assumed upon such an implication. On the contrary, the nature of the case contradicts their existence, for, if they belong to one state, they belong to all, and cannot be exercised severally and independently. The attempt would necessarily produce that conflict and confusion which it was the very purpose of the Constitution by its delegations of national power to prevent.

It is easier to think that the right of importation from abroad, and of transportation from one state to another includes, by necessary...

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