226 U.S. 192 (1912), 464, Purity Extract and Tonic Company v. Lynch

Docket NºNo. 464
Citation226 U.S. 192, 33 S.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184
Party NamePurity Extract and Tonic Company v. Lynch
Case DateDecember 02, 1912
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 192

226 U.S. 192 (1912)

33 S.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184

Purity Extract and Tonic Company

v.

Lynch

No. 464

United States Supreme Court

December 2, 1912

Submitted October 28, 1912

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

Syllabus

The decision by the state court that an article is within the prohibition of a state statute is binding here.

The protection accorded by the federal Constitution to interstate commerce does not extend beyond the sale in original packages as imported, and a contract made in one state for delivery of liquor in another state which does not limit the sale in the latter state to original packages encounters the local statute, and cannot be enforced if contrary thereto.

Where there have been no purchases and no deliveries under a contract for delivery of liquor, but the vendee has given notice of refusal to accept because the contract is illegal in the delivery, the state court, in sustaining the illegality of the contract, does not deny the seller the right to sell the article or have it transported in interstate commerce.

Page 193

Where a large number of bottles, each in a separate box, are all contained in one case, each bottle is not to be regarded as a separate original package and protected from interference by state statute under the commerce clause of the Constitution, and this even if the contract of shipment declared there was to be no retail sale by the consignee.

Quaere, and not decided, whether an article such as Poinsetta, the beverage involved in this case, having a low percentage of malt, is governed by the Wilson Act.

A state may, in the exercise of its police power, prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquor, and to the end of making the prohibition effectual may include in the prohibition beverages which, separately considered, may be innocuous, and so held as to Poinsetta, a beverage containing a small percentage of malt.

The court has no concern with the wisdom of exercising the police power, and unless the enactment has no substantial relation to a proper purpose, cannot declare that the limit of legislative power has been transcended.

For the courts to attempt to determine whether the exercise of the police power within legislative limits is wise would be contrary to our constitutional system and substitute judicial opinion for the legislative will. The only question in this Court is whether the legislature had the power to establish the regulation.

The legislation to that effect in many of the states shows that the opinion is extensively held that a general prohibition of sale of malt liquors, whether intoxicating or not, is necessary to suppress the sale of intoxicants.

In the exercise of its police power to prohibit the sale of intoxicants, a state may include within the prohibition malt and other liquors sold under the guise of innocent beverages.

100 Miss. 650 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of a statute of Mississippi which includes the prohibition of the sale of malt liquors, are stated in the opinion.

Page 197

HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action for breach of contract. The Purity Extract & Tonic Company (plaintiff below), a Tennessee corporation, is the manufacturer of a beverage called "Poinsetta;" and in November, 1910, it made an agreement with the defendant, Lynch, for the purchase of the article by him on stated terms during the period of five years. The agreement contemplated resales by the defendant in Hinds County, Mississippi, to the making of which he was to devote his best efforts. It was provided that he was to sell only in that county, where he was to have the exclusive right of sale, for which he was to pay to the plaintiff the sum of $500 within five days after the making of the contract. It was to recover this amount that the action was brought, the defendant having repudiated the agreement at the outset

Page 198

upon the ground that, on coming to Mississippi, he found it to be unlawful to sell "Poinsetta" in that state. The trial court sustained the defense of illegality, and its judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. 100 Miss. 650.

The statute which the agreement has been held to violate is Chapter 115 of the Laws of Mississippi of 1908, § 1, which includes in its prohibition the sale of malt liquors.

The case was tried upon an agreed statement of facts in which the characteristics of "Poinsetta" are set forth at length. In substance, the statement is that it is composed of pure distilled water to the extent of 90.45 percent, the remaining 9.55 percent being solids derived from cereals, "which are in an unfermented state, and are wholesome and nutritious;" that "it contains 5.73 percent of malt, and is sold as a beverage;" that it does not contain either alcohol or saccharine matter, being manufactured [33 S.Ct. 45] in such a manner under a secret formula obtained from German scientists as to bring neither into its composition; that it is not intoxicating; that its taste and odor are distinctive; that its appearance is such that "it would not probably be mistaken for any intoxicating liquor;" and that it

cannot be employed as a subterfuge for the sale of beer because it is bottled in a distinctive way, and its name blown in each bottle which contains the beverage.

It is further agreed that

the United States government does not treat Poinsetta as within the class of intoxicating liquors, and does not require anything to be done with reference to its sale.

The state court, following its decision in Fuller v. Jackson, 97 Miss. 237, construed the statute as prohibiting the sale of all malt liquors, whether, in fact intoxicating or not, and this construction of the state law is binding here. The court said:

Poinsetta may or may not be an intoxicant, but it is a malt liquor, and as such

Page 199

is prohibited from being sold in this state. The prohibition law cannot be made effective unless it excludes all subterfuges.

(100 Miss. 650, 657.)

The agreed statement of facts also contained the following:

Poinsetta is put up in bottles at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is shipped in bottles, each separate and apart from the other, placed in a case to which they are in no way attached, and which is done merely to prevent breakage of the bottles in transit. The case is not fastened with nails or other device, but merely closed. The bottles so contained are shipped in interstate commerce from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and are to be received under the contract by the consignee in Mississippi in the same condition as when bottled, and are to be sold as each several package. There is to be no retail sale under such right by said Lynch in the State of Mississippi, but all shipments are to be made direct either to said Lynch, or to other persons who shall desire to purchase said drink, and are to be delivered to said purchasers of said bottles in precisely the same shape as prepared in Tennessee, and said Poinsetta is still contained in the original package at the time it will be offered for sale in Mississippi by the purchaser thereof in the original package, which was sent from Tennessee through Alabama into Mississippi.

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247 practice notes
  • 81 So. 619 (Ala. 1919), 7 Div. 976, Perry v. Southern Express Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 17, 1919
    ...& Tob. Co., supra; Standard Chem. & Oil Co. v. City of Troy, 77 So. 383, 384, 385; L.R.A. 1918C, 522; Purity Ext. Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 33 Sup.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184; Clark Dist. Co. v. West. Md. Ry. Co., 242 U.S. 311, 37 Sup.Ct. 180, 61 L.Ed. 326, L.R.A. 1917B, 1218, Ann.Cas.19......
  • 195 Cal.App.4th 107, A128728, People v. Grant
    • United States
    • California California Court of Appeals
    • May 5, 2011
    ...opinion of expediency for the will of the legislature, a notion foreign to our constitutional system.” (Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch (1912) 226 U.S. 192, 201-202 [57 L.Ed. 184, 33 S.Ct. 44].) "Once it is established that the general prohibition furthers the legislative goal, the Legisla......
  • 144 N.E. 802 (Ill. 1924), 16022, City of Chicago v. Murphy
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 17, 1924
    ...are included within the ordinance which are not covered by the legislative grant of power to the city. Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 33 S.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184; Kettering v. City of Jacksonville, 50 Ill. 39; Bradford v. Jones, 142 Ky. 820, 135 S.W. 290. Appellant admits that he ......
  • 157 P. 453 (Kan. 1916), 19,945, Danciger v. Cooley
    • United States
    • Kansas Supreme Court of Kansas
    • May 6, 1916
    ...would impede the enforcement of the laws against intoxicants, on account of the resemblance between them. ( Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 57 L.Ed. 184, 33 S.Ct. 44.) By a parity of reasoning it should be held that in the exercise of its police power, in order to prevent a sale ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
246 cases
  • 81 So. 619 (Ala. 1919), 7 Div. 976, Perry v. Southern Express Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 17, 1919
    ...& Tob. Co., supra; Standard Chem. & Oil Co. v. City of Troy, 77 So. 383, 384, 385; L.R.A. 1918C, 522; Purity Ext. Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 33 Sup.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184; Clark Dist. Co. v. West. Md. Ry. Co., 242 U.S. 311, 37 Sup.Ct. 180, 61 L.Ed. 326, L.R.A. 1917B, 1218, Ann.Cas.19......
  • 195 Cal.App.4th 107, A128728, People v. Grant
    • United States
    • California California Court of Appeals
    • May 5, 2011
    ...opinion of expediency for the will of the legislature, a notion foreign to our constitutional system.” (Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch (1912) 226 U.S. 192, 201-202 [57 L.Ed. 184, 33 S.Ct. 44].) "Once it is established that the general prohibition furthers the legislative goal, the Legisla......
  • 144 N.E. 802 (Ill. 1924), 16022, City of Chicago v. Murphy
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 17, 1924
    ...are included within the ordinance which are not covered by the legislative grant of power to the city. Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 33 S.Ct. 44, 57 L.Ed. 184; Kettering v. City of Jacksonville, 50 Ill. 39; Bradford v. Jones, 142 Ky. 820, 135 S.W. 290. Appellant admits that he ......
  • 157 P. 453 (Kan. 1916), 19,945, Danciger v. Cooley
    • United States
    • Kansas Supreme Court of Kansas
    • May 6, 1916
    ...would impede the enforcement of the laws against intoxicants, on account of the resemblance between them. ( Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 57 L.Ed. 184, 33 S.Ct. 44.) By a parity of reasoning it should be held that in the exercise of its police power, in order to prevent a sale ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Parking-Lot Laws: An Assault on Private- Property Rights and Workplace Safety
    • United States
    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 93-3, March 2008
    • March 1, 2008
    ...not "'pass[] the bounds of reason [or] assume[] the character of a merely arbitrary fiat'" (quoting Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U.S. 192, 204 (1912))). The elaborate ordinance at issue essentially forbade the plaintiff from developing "apartment houses, hotels, churches,......