252 U.S. 416 (1920), 609, State of Missouri v. Holland

Docket Nº:No. 609
Citation:252 U.S. 416, 40 S.Ct. 382, 64 L.Ed. 641
Party Name:State of Missouri v. Holland
Case Date:April 19, 1920
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 416

252 U.S. 416 (1920)

40 S.Ct. 382, 64 L.Ed. 641

State of Missouri

v.

Holland

No. 609

United States Supreme Court

April 19, 1920

Argued March 2, 1920

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI

Syllabus

Protection of its quasi-sovereign right to regulate the taking of game is a sufficient jurisdictional basis, apart from any pecuniary interest, for a bill by a State to enjoin enforcement of federal regulations over the subject alleged to be unconstitutional. P. 431.

The Treaty of August 16, 1916, 39 Stat. 1702, with Great Britain, providing for the protection, by close seasons and in other ways, of migratory birds in the United States and Canada, and binding each power to take and propose to their lawmaking bodies the necessary measures for carrying it out, is within the treaty-making power conferred by Art. II, § 2, of the Constitution; the Act of July 3, 1918, c. 128, 40 Stat. 755, which prohibits the killing, capturing or selling any of the migratory birds included in the terms of the treaty, except as permitted by regulations compatible with those terms to be made by the Secretary of Agriculture, is valid under Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution, as a necessary and proper means of effectuating the treaty, and the treaty and statute, by bringing such birds within the paramount protection and regulation of the Government do not infringe property rights or sovereign powers respecting such birds reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment. P. 432.

Page 417

With respect to right reserved to the State, the treaty-making power is not limited to what may be done by an unaided act of Congress. P. 432.

258 F. 479, affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 430

HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a bill in equity brought by the State of Missouri to prevent a game warden of the United States from attempting to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of

Page 431

July 3, 1918, c. 128, 40 Stat. 755, and the regulations made by the Secretary of Agriculture in pursuance of the same. The ground of the bill is that the statute is an unconstitutional interference with the rights reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment, and that the acts of the defendant done and threatened under that authority invade the sovereign right of the State and contravene its will manifested in statutes. The State also alleges a pecuniary interest, as owner of the wild birds within its borders and otherwise, admitted by the Government to be sufficient, but it is enough that the bill is a reasonable and proper means to assert the alleged quasi sovereign rights of a State. Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U.S. 125, 142. Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230, 237. [40 S.Ct. 383] Marshall Dental Manufacturing Co. v. Iowa, 226 U.S. 460, 462. A motion to dismiss was sustained by the District Court on the ground that the act of Congress is constitutional. 258 F. 479. Acc., United States v. Thompson, 258 F. 257; United States v. Rockefeller, 260 F. 346. The State appeals.

On December 8, 1916, a treaty between the United States and Great Britain was proclaimed by the President. It recited that many species of birds in their annual migrations traversed certain parts of the United States and of Canada, that they were of great value as a source of food and in destroying insects injurious to vegetation, but were in danger of extermination through lack of adequate protection. It therefore provided for specified close seasons and protection in other forms, and agreed that the two powers would take or propose to their lawmaking bodies the necessary measures for carrying the treaty out. 39 Stat. 1702. The above mentioned Act of July 3, 1918, entitled an act to give effect to the convention, prohibited the killing, capturing or selling any of the migratory birds included in the terms of the treaty except as permitted by regulations compatible with those terms, to be made by

Page 432

the Secretary of Agriculture. Regulations were proclaimed on July 31, and October 25, 1918. 40 Stat. 1812; 1863. It is unnecessary to go into any details because, as we have said, the question raised is the general one whether the treaty and statute are void as an interference with the rights reserved to the States.

To answer this question, it is not enough to refer to the Tenth Amendment, reserving the powers not delegated to the United States, because, by Article II, § 2, the power to make treaties is delegated expressly, and by Article VI treaties made under the authority of the United States, along with the Constitution and laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, are declared the supreme law of the land. If the treaty...

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