180 U.S. 452 (1901), 116, W. W. Cargill Co. v. Minnesota

Docket Nº:No. 116
Citation:180 U.S. 452, 21 S.Ct. 423, 45 L.Ed. 619
Party Name:W. W. Cargill Co. v. Minnesota
Case Date:March 05, 1901
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 452

180 U.S. 452 (1901)

21 S.Ct. 423, 45 L.Ed. 619

W. W. Cargill Co.

v.

Minnesota

No. 116

United States Supreme Court

March 5, 1901

Argued and submitted December 3-4, 1900

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA

Syllabus

Chapter 148 of the General Laws of Minnesota for the year 1895, entitled

an act to regulate the receipt, storage and shipment of grain at elevators and warehouses on the right of way of railroads, depot grounds and other lands used in connection with such line of railway in the Minnesota at stations and sidings, other than at terminal points,

contained in sections 1 and 2 the following provisions:

Section 1. All elevators and warehouses in which grain is received, stored, shipped or handled and which are situated on the right of way of any railroad, depot grounds or any lands acquired or reserved by any railroad company in this state to be used in connection with its line of railway at any station or siding in this state, other than at terminal points, are hereby declared to be public elevators and shall be under the supervision and subject to the inspection of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the Minnesota, and shall, for the purposes of this act, be known and designated as public country elevators or country warehouses. It shall be unlawful to receive, ship, store or handle any grain in any such elevator or warehouse unless the owner or owners thereof shall have procured a license therefor from the state Railroad and Warehouse Commission, which license shall be issued for the fee of one (1) dollar per year, and only upon written application under oath, specifying the location of such elevator or warehouse and the name of the person, firm or corporation owning and operating such elevator or warehouse and the names of all the members of the firm or the names of all the officers of the corporation owning and operating such elevator or warehouse and all moneys received for such licenses shall be turned over to the state grain inspection fund. Such license shall confer upon the licensee full authority to operate such warehouse or elevator in accordance with the laws of this state and the rules and regulations prescribed by said commission, and every person, company or corporation receiving such license shall be held to have accepted the provisions of this act, and thereby to have agreed to comply with the same. If any elevator or warehouse is operated in violation or in disregard of the laws of this state, its license shall, upon due proof of this fact, after proper hearing and notice to the licensee, be revoked by the said Railroad and Warehouse Commission. Every such license shall expire on the thirty-first (31st) day of August of each year.

Sec. 2. No person, firm or corporation shall in any manner operate such public country elevator or country warehouse without having a license as specified in the

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preceding section, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse without such license shall be deemed a misdemeanor to be punished as hereinafter provided, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse in violation of law and without having the license herein prescribed, may upon complaint of the party aggrieved, and upon complaint of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, be enjoined and restrained by the District Court for the county in which the elevator or warehouse in question is situate, by temporary and permanent injunction, conformably to the procedure in civil actions in the district court.

Held:

(1) That the highest court of the state having decided that the provision requiring a license was separable from other provisions, it was the duty of the federal Court to accept that interpretation of the statute.

(2) That the mere requirement of a licensee to engage in the business specified in the statute was to be referred to the general power of the state to adopt such regulations as were appropriate to protect the people in the enjoyment of their relative rights and privileges, and to guard them against fraud and imposition, and is not forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment.

(3) That an acceptance of a license, in whatever form, will not require the licensee to respect or to comply with any provisions of the statute or with any regulations prescribed by the state Railroad and Warehouse Commission that are repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

(4) That, as the statute applied to all of the class defined by its first section, it was not invalid by reason of its nonapplication to those who own or operate warehouses not situated on the right of way of a railroad. Such a classification was not so unreasonable as to amount to a denial of the equal protection of the laws, nor was the requirement of a license a regulation of commerce among the states.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

HARLAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The present action was brought in one of the courts of Minnesota, in the name of the state, against the W. W. Cargill Company, a Wisconsin corporation. The relief sought was a decree

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perpetually enjoining the defendant from operating a certain elevator and warehouse owned by it, situated on the right of way of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, in the village of Lanesboro, Minnesota, until it should have obtained a license from the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of that state.

The suit is based on a statute of Minnesota approved April 16th, 1895, and entitled

An Act to Regulate the Receipt, Storage, and Shipment of Grain at Elevators and Warehouses on the Right of Way of Railroads, Depot Grounds, and Other Lands used in Connection with Such Line of Railway in the Minnesota at Stations and Sidings, Other than at Terminal Points.

Gen.Laws, Minn. 1895, c. 148, p. 313.

It seems to be necessary to a clear understanding of the case, and to the disposition of some of the questions presented for consideration, that the entire act be examined. It is therefore given in full in the margin. *

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We here give only the first and second sections of the act:

§ 1. All elevators and warehouses in which grain is received,

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stored, shipped or handled, and which are situated on the right of way of any railroad, depot grounds, or any lands acquired

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or reserved by any railroad company in this state to be used in connection with its line of railway at any station or siding

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in this state, other than at terminal points, are hereby declared to be public elevators, and shall be under the supervision and

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subject to the inspection of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Minnesota, and shall, for the purposes of this act, be known and designated as public country elevators or country warehouses. It shall be unlawful to receive, ship, store, or handle any grain in any such elevator or warehouse,

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unless the owner or owners thereof shall have procured a license therefore from the State Railroad and Warehouse Commission, which license shall he issued for the fee of one dollar per year, and only upon written application under oath specifying the location of such elevator or warehouse and the name of the person, firm, or corporation owning and operating such elevator or warehouse, and the names of all the members of the firm, or the names of all the officers of the corporation, owning and operating such elevator or warehouse, and all moneys received for such licenses shall be turned over to the state grain inspection fund. Such license shall confer upon the licensee full authority to operate such warehouse or elevator in accordance with the laws of this state and the rules and regulations prescribed by said commission, and every person, company, or corporation receiving such license shall be held to have accepted the provisions of this act, and thereby to have agreed to comply with the same. If any elevator or warehouse is operated in violation or in disregard of the laws of this state, its license shall, upon due proof of this fact, after proper hearing and notice to the licensee, be revoked by the said Railroad and Warehouse Commission. Every such license shall expire on the thirty-first day of August of each year.

§ 2. No person, firm, or corporation shall in any manner operate such public country elevator or country warehouse without having a license as specified in the preceding section, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse without such license shall be deemed a misdemeanor to be punished as hereinafter provided, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse in violation of law and without having the license herein prescribed may, upon complaint of the party aggrieved and upon complaint of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, he enjoined and restrained by the district court for the county in which the elevator or warehouse in question is situate, by temporary and permanent injunction, conformably to the procedure in civil actions in the district court.

The complaint alleged that the elevator was used by the defendant company in connection with the railway for the receiving and shipping of wheat and other grains transported over

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the lines of the railway company, was essential and necessary to the railway company in order promptly, safely, and properly to handle grains received by it for shipment, and constituted in that respect a necessary adjunct of the railroad.

The facts upon which the case was determined are set forth in a finding based upon the stipulation of the parties, and may be summarized as follows:

On April 16, 1895, and for more than a year prior thereto, the defendant company was...

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