171 U.S. 345, 9, Patapsco Guano Company v. North Carolina Board of Agriculture

Docket Nº:No. 9
Citation:171 U.S. 345, 18 S.Ct. 862, 43 L.Ed. 191
Party Name:Patapsco Guano Company v. North Carolina Board of Agriculture
Case Date:May 31, 1898
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 345

171 U.S. 345

18 S.Ct. 862, 43 L.Ed. 191

Patapsco Guano Company

v.

North Carolina Board of Agriculture

No. 9

United States Supreme Court

May 31, 1898

Argued March 3-4, 1898

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA

Syllabus

The Act of the Legislature of North Carolina of January 21, 1891, must be regarded as an act providing for the inspection of fertilizers and fertilizing materials in order to prevent the practice of imposition on the people of the state, and the charge of twenty-five cents per ton as intended merely to defray the cost of such inspection, and as it is competent for the state to pass laws of this character, the requirement of inspection and payment of its cost does not bring the act into collision with the commercial power vested in Congress, and clearly this cannot be so as to foreign commerce, for clause two of section ten of article one expressly recognizes the validity of state inspection laws, and allows the collection of the amounts necessary for their execution, and the same principle must apply to interstate commerce.

The case is stated in the opinion.

FULLER, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.

This was a bill filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of North Carolina, April 1, 1892, seeking to enjoin the collection of an inspection charge of twenty-five cents per ton on commercial fertilizers, as prescribed by an Act of the General Assembly of North Carolina of January 21, 1891, and from taking any steps whatever to enforce that act, on the ground of its unconstitutionality.

The court entered a restraining order, but, on the coming in of the answer, a motion to continue the injunction until the

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hearing was heard on bill, answer, affidavits, and exhibits, and denied, and the temporary injunction dissolved. The opinion of the circuit court, by Seymour, J., is reported in 52 F. 690. Proofs were taken, and a final hearing had at June term, 1893 at Raleigh. The bill was dismissed, and complainant thereupon prosecuted this appeal.

By section fourteen of article nine of the Constitution of North Carolina of 1875-1876, it was provided that, as soon as practicable after the adoption of that instrument, the General Assembly should "establish and maintain, in connection with the university, a Department of Agriculture, of mechanics, of mining, and of normal instruction."

By an Act of March 12, 1877 (Laws N.C. 1876-77, p. 506, c. 274), such a department was established, and, among other things, the subject of commercial fertilizers dealt with. By the eighth section, manipulated guanos, superphosphates, or other commercial fertilizers were forbidden to be sold or offered for sale until the manufacturer or person importing the same had obtained a license therefor, on payment of a privilege tax of five hundred dollars per annum for each separate brand or quality.

By section nine, every bag, barrel, or other package of such fertilizer offered for sale was required to have thereon a label or stamp setting forth the name, location, and trademark of the manufacturer, the chemical composition of the contents, and the real percentage of certain specified ingredients, and that the privilege tax had been paid. By section ten, the board was empowered to collect samples for analysis; by section eleven, to require railroad and steamboat companies to furnish monthly statements of the quantity of fertilizers transported; and, by section twelve, to establish an agricultural experiment and fertilizer central station in connection with the chemical laboratory of the university, and the trustees of the university, with the approval of the board, were directed to employ an analyst, skilled in agricultural chemistry, whose duty it should be

to analyze such fertilizers and products as may be required by the Department of Agriculture, and to aid as far as practicable in suppressing fraud in the sale of commercial

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fertilizers,

and whose salary was to be paid "out of the funds of the Department of Agriculture."

The sections bearing on this subject were carried forward in the Code of 1883, volume II, c. 1, §§ 2190 et seq.

In August, 1890, the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (Bond and Seymour, JJ.) held that section 2190 of the Code, declaring that no commercial fertilizers [18 S.Ct. 863] should be sold or offered for sale until the manufacturer or importer obtained a license from the treasurer of the state, for which should be paid a privilege tax of five hundred dollars per annum for each separate brand, was in violation of the federal Constitution, and void. American Fertilizing Co. v. Board of Agriculture of North Carolina, 43 F. 609.

Thereupon, by the Act of January 21, 1891, Laws 1891, 40, c. 9, volume II, c. 1 of the Code was amended, and sections 2190, 2191, and 2193 were made to read as follows:

SEC. 2190. For the purpose of defraying the expenses connected with the inspection of fertilizers and fertilizing materials in this state, there shall be a charge of twenty-five cents per ton on such fertilizers and fertilizing material for each fiscal year ending November thirtieth, which shall be paid before delivery to agents, dealers or consumers in this state, provided, the board shall [have] the discretion to exempt certain natural material as may be deemed expedient. Each bag, barrel or other package of such fertilizers or fertilizing materials shall have attached thereto a tag stating that all charges specified in this section have been paid, and the state Board of Agriculture is hereby empowered to prescribe a form for such tags, and to adopt such regulations as will enable them to enforce this law. Any person, corporation or company who shall violate this chapter, or who shall sell or offer for sale any such fertilizers or fertilizing material contrary to the provisions above set forth, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and all fertilizers or fertilizing materials so sold or offered for sale shall be subject to seizure and condemnation in the same manner as provided in this chapter for the seizure and condemnation of spurious fertilizers, subject, however,

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to the discretion of the Board of Agriculture to release the fertilizers so seized and condemned upon the payment of the charge above specified and all costs and expenses incurred by the department in such proceeding: provided, that tags shall be attached by manufacturers, agents or dealers to all fertilizers now in the state; those protected under license previously issued shall be furnished free of charge.

SEC. 2191. Every bag, barrel or other package of such fertilizers or fertilizing materials as above designated offered for sale in this state shall have thereon plainly printed a label or stamp, a copy of which shall be filed with the Commissioner of Agriculture, together with a true and faithful sample of the fertilizer or fertilizing material which it is proposed to sell at or before delivery to agents, dealers or consumers in this state and which shall be uniformly used and shall not be changed during the fiscal year for which tags are issued, and the said label or stamp shall truly set forth the name, location and trademark of the manufacturer; also the chemical composition of the contents of such package, and the real percentage of any of the following ingredients asserted to be present, to-wit, soluble and precipitated phosphoric acid, which shall not be less than eight percent; soluble potassa, which shall not be less than one percent; ammonia, which shall not be less than two percent, or its equivalent in nitrogen; together with the date of its analyzation, and that the requirements of the law have been complied with, and any such fertilizer as shall be ascertained by analysis not to contain the ingredients and percentage set forth as above provided shall be liable to seizure and condemnation as hereinafter prescribed, and when condemned shall be sold by the Board of Agriculture for the exclusive use and benefit of the Department of Agriculture.

Section 2192 refers to the proceedings to condemn.

SEC. 2193. Any merchant, trader, manufacturer or agent who shall sell or offer for sale any commercial fertilizer or fertilizing material without having such labels, stamps and tags as hereinbefore provided attached thereto, or shall use the required tag the second time to avoid the payment of the

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