176 U.S. 1 (1900), 6, Louisiana v. Texas

Docket Nº:No. 6
Citation:176 U.S. 1, 20 S.Ct. 251, 44 L.Ed. 347
Party Name:Louisiana v. Texas
Case Date:January 15, 1900
Court:United States Supreme Court

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176 U.S. 1 (1900)

20 S.Ct. 251, 44 L.Ed. 347




No. 6

United States Supreme Court

January 15, 1900

Submitted October 24, 1899



The bill of complaint on the part of Louisiana against Texas, alleged that the State of Texas had granted to its Governor and its Health Officer extensive powers over the establishment and maintenance of quarantines over infectious or contagious diseases; that this power had been exercised in a way and with a purpose to build up and benefit the commerce of cities in Texas which were rivals of New Orleans, and it prayed for a decree that

neither the State of Texas, nor her Governor, nor her Health Officer, has the right, under the cover of an exercise of police or quarantine powers, to declare and enforce against interstate commerce, between the State of Louisiana, or any part thereof, and the State of Texas, an absolute embargo prohibiting the movement and conduct of said commerce, or to make, declare and enforce against places infected with yellow fever or other infectious diseases in the State of Louisiana discriminative quarantine rules or regulations, affecting interstate commerce between the Louisiana, or any part thereof, and the State of Texas, different from and more burdensome than the quarantine rules and regulations affecting interstate or foreign commerce between the State of Texas and other states and countries infected with yellow fever and other infectious diseases,

and the bill asked for an injunction, restraining the Texas officials from enforcing the Texas laws in the manner in which they were enforced. Held:

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(1) That in order to maintain jurisdiction of the bill, it must appear that the controversy to be determined was a controversy arising directly between the State of Louisiana and the State of Texas, and not a controversy in vindication of the grievances of particular individuals.

(2) That the gravamen of this bill was not a special and peculiar injury such as would sustain an action by a private person, but that the State of Louisiana presented herself in the attitude of parens patriae, trustee, guardian or representative of all her citizens.

(3) That the bill does not set up facts which show that the State of Texas has so authorized or confirmed the alleged action of her health officer as to make it her own, or from which it necessarily follows that the two states are in controversy within the meaning of the Constitution.

(4) That the Court was unable to hold that the bill could be maintained as presenting a case of controversy between a state and citizens of another state.

(5) That the bill could not be maintained as against the health officer alone, on the theory that his conduct was in violation of or in excess of a valid law of the state.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE concurred in the result. MR. JUSTICE HARLAN concurred in the result, but dissented from some of the propositions contained in the opinion of the Court, as did also MR. JUSTICE BROWN.

The State of Louisiana, by her Governor, applied to this Court for leave to file a bill of complaint against the State of Texas, her Governor, and her health officer. Argument was had on objections to granting leave, but, it appearing to the Court the better course in this instance, leave was granted and the bill filed, whereupon defendants demurred, and the cause was submitted on the oral argument already had and printed briefs.

The bill alleged:

That the City of New Orleans, one of the great commercial cities of this Republic and the second export city of this continent, containing about 275,000 inhabitants, many of whom are largely engaged in interstate commerce with the inhabitants of the State of Texas, is situated within the territory of your orator; that said city contains nearly one-fourth of all the inhabitants of your orator, and the assessed values of her property are more than one-half the assessed values of the whole state, and she contributes by taxes and licenses more than five-eighths of your orator's revenue.

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That two lines of railroad, the Southern Pacific and the Texas & Pacific, run directly from the City of New Orleans through the States of Louisiana and Texas, and into the states and territories of the United States and of Mexico, beyond the State of Texas, with the inhabitants of which states and territories the citizens of New Orleans are also engaged in interstate and foreign commerce, such commerce largely following the lines of said railroads and their many connections.

That the State of Texas, by her Revised Civil Statutes, adopted at the regular session of the twenty-fourth legislature, held in the year 1895, being Title XCII thereof, has granted to her Governor and her health officer extensive powers over the establishment and maintenance of quarantines against infectious or contagious diseases, with authority to make rules and regulations for the detention of vessels, persons, and property coming into the state from places infected, or deemed to be infected, with such diseases.

That Joseph D. Sayers, a citizen of the State of Texas, is now, and has been for some time past, Governor of said state.

That William F. Blunt, a citizen of the State of Texas, is now, and has been for some time past, the state health officer of the State of Texas.

That the ports of said state, situated on the Gulf coast, are engaged in commerce with the ports of Mexico, Central and South America, and Cuba, known to be permanently infected with yellow fever; said commerce being largely competitive with similar commerce coming to the port of New Orleans,

That on the 1st day of March, 1899, Joseph D. Sayers, Governor of the State of Texas, under the provisions of the said laws, issued his proclamation establishing quarantine on the Gulf coast and Rio Grande border against all places, persons, or things coming from places infected by yellow fever, etc., a copy of which proclamation is hereto annexed and made part of this bill and marked Exhibit "A."

That the rules and regulations established in said quarantine proclamation permit trade and commerce between such infected ports and the State of Texas, and provide for the

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fumigation and reasonable detention of ships and cargoes from infected ports.

That on or about the 31st day of August, 1899, a case of yellow fever was officially declared to exist in the City of New Orleans, in a part of the city several miles away from the commercial part thereof, and from that time to this, several other sporadic [20 S.Ct. 252] cases have been reported in similar parts of the city.

That as soon as said first case was reported, the said William F. Blunt, Health Officer of the State of Texas, claiming to act under the provisions of Article 4324 of the Revised Civil Statutes, under the pretense of establishing a quarantine, placed an embargo on all interstate commerce between the City of New Orleans and the State of Texas, absolutely prohibiting all common carriers entering the State of Texas from bringing into the state any freight or passengers, or even the mails of the United States, coming from the City of New Orleans, and to enforce these orders he immediately placed, and now maintains, armed guards, acting under the authority of the State of Texas, on all the lines of travel from the State of Louisiana into the State of Texas, with instructions to enforce the embargo declared by him vi et armis, which instructions these armed guards are carrying out to the letter; that about six days later, he modified his order so as to permit the government of the United States to carry and deliver the mails, and also modified his order so as to permit persons and their baggage to enter the State of Texas, after ten days' detention at the quarantine detention camps established by him, and after fumigation of their baggage; but that he now maintains, and announces his intention to maintain indefinitely his absolute prohibition of all interstate commerce between the City of New Orleans and the State of Texas; that he has refused to permit the introduction of sulphuric acid in iron drums, unpacked hardware, machinery, and other articles coming from localities in the City of New Orleans far removed from the places where the sporadic cases of fever have occurred, and which by their nature are concededly incapable of conveying infection; that he had established

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no system of classification or inspection of the articles of interstate commerce coming from the City of New Orleans, to determine whether they are or may be infected, or whether they are capable or not of conveying infection, no period of detention for such articles, no place or method of disinfection thereof, his only method being absolute and unconditional prohibition of such interstate commerce; that it is a notorious fact, and well known to said Blunt, that all of the interstate commerce between New Orleans and Texas is carried on by railroads, and none by water communication between the port of New Orleans and the Texas ports, and that the effect of his orders is to destroy all such commerce, to take away the trade of the merchants and businessmen of the City of New Orleans, and to transfer that trade to rival business cities in the State of Texas.

That while Joseph D. Sayers, Governor of the State of Texas, has issued no formal proclamation of quarantine, as provided by law, to-wit, Article 4324 of the Revised Civil Statutes, defining the rules and regulations of such quarantine so declared by said Blunt, your orator charges that the rules and regulations established by said Blunt have the full force of law until modified or changed by the proclamation of the Governor, and that the Governor knows all these facts, and approves and adopts the same, and permits these rules and regulations to stand and to be executed in full force and effect as established by said Blunt.


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