Huron Portland Cement Company v. City of Detroit, Michigan, No. 86

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTEWART
Citation78 A.L.R.2d 1294,4 L.Ed.2d 852,362 U.S. 440,80 S.Ct. 813
Decision Date25 April 1960
Docket NumberNo. 86
PartiesHURON PORTLAND CEMENT COMPANY, etc., Appellant, v. CITY OF DETROIT, MICHIGAN, etc., et al

362 U.S. 440
80 S.Ct. 813
4 L.Ed.2d 852
HURON PORTLAND CEMENT COMPANY, etc., Appellant,

v.

CITY OF DETROIT, MICHIGAN, etc., et al.

No. 86.
Argued Feb. 29, 1960.
Decided April 25, 1960.

Mr. Alfred E. Lindbloom, Detroit, Mich., for appellant.

Mr. John F. Hathaway, Detroit, Mich., for appellees.

Mr. Justice STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

This appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court of Michigan draws in question the constitutional validity of certain provisions of Detroit's Smoke Abatement Code as applied to ships owned by the appellant and operated in interstate commerce.

Page 441

The appellant is a Michigan corporation, engaged in the manufacture and sale of cement. It maintains a fleet of five vessels which it uses to transport cement from its mill in Alpena, Michigan, to distributing plants located in various states bordering the Great Lakes. Two of the ships, the S. S. Crapo and the S. S. Boardman, are equipped with handfired Scotch marine boilers. While these vessels are docked for loading and unloading it is necessary, in order to operate deck machinery, to keep the boilers fired and to clean the fires periodically. When the fires are cleaned, the ship's boiler stacks emit smoke which in density and duration exceeds the maximum standards allowable under the Detroit Smoke Abatement Code. Structural alterations would be required in order to insure compliance with the Code.

Criminal proceedings were instituted in the Detroit Recorder's Court against the appellant and its agents for violations of the city law during periods when the vessels were docked at the Port of Detroit. The appellant brought an action in the State Circuit Court to enjoin the city from further prosecuting the pending litigation in the Recorder's Court, and from otherwise enforcing the smoke ordinance against its vessels, 'except where the emission of smoke is caused by the improper firing or the improper use of the equipment upon said vessels.' The Circuit Court refused to grant relief, and the Supreme Court of Michigan affirmed, 355 Mich. 227, 93 N.W.2d 888. An appeal was lodged here, and we noted probable jurisdiction, 361 U.S. 806, 80 S.Ct. 53, 4 L.Ed.2d 53.

In support of the claim that the ordinance cannot constitutionally be applied to appellant's ships, two basic arguments are advanced. First, it is asserted that since the vessels and their equipment, including their boilers, have been inspected, approved and licensed to operate in interstate commerce in accordance with a comprehensive system of regulation enacted by Congress, the City of

Page 442

Detroit may not legislate in such a way as, in effect, to impose additional or inconsistent standards. Secondly, the argument is made that even if Congress has not expressly pre-empted the field, the municipal ordinance (materially affects interstate commerce in matters where uniformity is necessary.' We have concluded that neither of these contentions can prevail, and that the Federal Constitution does not prohibit application to the appellant's vessels of the criminal provisions of the Detroit ordinance.1

The ordinance was enacted for the manifest purpose of promoting the health and welfare of the city's inhabitants. Legislation designed to free from pollution the very air that people breathe clearly falls within the exercise of even the most traditional concept of what is compendiously known as the police power. In the exercise of that power, the states and their instrumentalities may act, in many areas of interstate commerce and maritime activities, concurrently with the federal government. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 6 L.Ed. 23; Cooley v. Board of Wardens of Port of Philadelphia, 12 How. 299, 13 L.Ed. 996; The Steamboat New York v. Rea, 18 How. 223, 15 L.Ed. 359; Morgan's Louisiana & T.R. & S.S. Co. v. Louisiana Board of Health, 118 U.S. 455, 6 S.Ct. 1114, 30 L.Ed. 237; The Minnesota Rate Cases, Simpson v. Shepard, 230 U.S. 352, 33 S.Ct. 729, 57 L.Ed. 1511; Wilmington Transp. Co. v. R.R. Commission of California,

Page 443

236 U.S. 151, 35 S.Ct. 276, 59 L.Ed. 508; Vandalia R.R. Co. v. Public Service Commission, 242 U.S. 255, 37 S.Ct. 93, 61 L.Ed. 276; Stewart & Co. v. Rivara, 274 U.S. 614, 47 S.Ct. 718, 71 L.Ed. 1234; Welch Co. v. State of New Hampshire, 306 U.S. 79, 59 S.Ct. 438, 83 L.Ed. 500.

The basic limitations upon local legislative power in this area are clear enough. The controlling principles have been reiterated over the years in a host of this Court's decisions. Evenhanded local regulation to effectuate a legitimate local public interest is valid unless pre-empted by federal action, Erir R.R. Co. v. People of State of New York 233 U.S. 671, 34 S.Ct. 756, 58 L.Ed. 1149; Oregon-Washington R. & Nav. Co. v. State of Washington, 270 U.S. 87, 46 S.Ct. 279, 70 L.Ed. 482; Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 272 U.S. 605, 47 S.Ct. 207, 71 L.Ed. 432; Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Porter, 273 U.S. 341, 47 S.Ct. 383, 71 L.Ed. 672; Service Storage & Transfer Co. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 359 U.S. 171, 79 S.Ct. 714, 3 L.Ed.2d 717, or unduly burdensome on maritime activities or interstate commerce, State of Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U.S. 313, 10 S.Ct. 862, 34 L.Ed. 455; Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 328 U.S. 373, 66 S.Ct. 1050, 90 L.Ed. 1317; Bibb v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520, 79 S.Ct. 962, 3 L.Ed.2d 1003.

In determining whether state regulation has been pre-empted by federal action, 'the intent to supersede the exercise by the state of its police power as to matters not covered by the Federal legislation is not to be inferred from the mere fact that Congress has seen fit to circumscribe its regulation and to occupy a limited field. In other words, such intent is not to be implied unless the act of Congress, fairly interpreted, is in actual conflict with the law of the state.' Savage v. Jones, 225 U.S. 501, 533, 32 S.Ct. 715, 726, 56 L.Ed. 1182. See also Reid v. State of Colorado, 187 U.S. 137, 23 S.Ct. 92, 47 L.Ed. 108; Asbell v. State of Kansas, 209 U.S. 251, 28 S.Ct. 485, 52 L.Ed. 778; Welch Co. v. State of New Hampshire, 306 U.S. 79, 59 S.Ct. 438, 83 L.Ed. 500; Maurer v. Hamilton, 309 U.S. 598, 60 S.Ct. 726, 84 L.Ed. 969.

In determining whether the state has imposed an undue burden on interstate commerce, it must be borne in mind that the Constitution when 'conferring upon Congress the regulation of commerce, * * * never intended to cut the States off from legislating on all subjects relating to the health, life, and safety of their citizens, though the legislation might indirectly affect the commerce of

Page 444

the country. Legislation, in a great variety of ways, may affect commerce and persons engaged in it without constituting a regulation of it, within the meaning of the Constitution.' Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99, 103, 23 L.Ed. 819; Austin v. State of Tennessee, 179 U.S. 343, 21 S.Ct. 132, 45 L.Ed. 224; Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 183 U.S. 503, 22 S.Ct. 95, 46 L.Ed. 298; The Minnesota Rate Cases, Simpson v. Shepard, 230 U.S. 352, 33 S.Ct. 729, 57 L.Ed. 1511; Boston & Maine R. Co. v. Armburg, 285 U.S. 234, 52 S.Ct. 336, 76 L.Ed. 729; Collins v. American Buslines, Inc., 350 U.S. 528, 76 S.Ct. 582, 100 L.Ed. 672. But a state may not impose a burden which materially affects interstate commerce in an area where uniformity of regulation is necessary. Hall v. DeCuir, 95 U.S. 485, 24 L.Ed. 547; Southern Pacific Co. v. State of Arizona, 325 U.S. 761, 65 S.Ct. 1515, 89 L.Ed. 1915; Bibb v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520, 79 S.Ct. 962, 3 L.Ed.2d 1003.

Although verbal generalizations do not of their own motion decide concrete cases, it is nevertheless within the framework of these basic principles that the issues in the present case must be determined.

I.

For many years Congress has maintained an extensive and comprehensive set of controls over ships and shipping. Federal inspection of steam vessels was first required in 1838, 5 Stat. 304, and the requirement has been continued ever since. 5 Stat. 626; 10 Stat. 61; 14 Stat. 227; 16 Stat. 440; 22 Stat. 346; 28 Stat. 699; 32 Stat. 34; 34 Stat. 68; 60 Stat. 1097; 73 Stat. 475. Steam vessels which carry passengers must pass inspection annually, 46 U.S.C. § 391(a), 46 U.S.C.A. § 391(a), and those which do not, every two years. 46 U.S.C. § 391(b), 46 U.S.C.A. § 391(b). Failure to meet the standards invoked by law results in revocation of the inspection certificate, or refusal to issue a new one, 46 U.S.C. § 391(d), 46 U.S.C.A. § 391(d). It is unlawful for a vessel to operate without such a certificate. 46 U.S.C. § 390c(a), 46 U.S.C.A. § 390c(a).

These inspections are broad in nature, covering 'the boilers, unfired pressure vessels, and appurtenances

Page 445

thereof, also the propelling and auxiliary machinery, electrical apparatus and equipment, of all vessels subject to inspection * * *.' 46 U.S.C. § 392(b), 46 U.S.C.A. § 392(b). The law provides that 'No boiler * * * shall be allowed to be used if constructed in whole or in part of defective material or which because of its form, design, workmanship, age, use or for any other reason is unsafe.' 46 U.S.C. § 392(c), 46 U.S.C.A. § 392(c).

As is apparent on the face of the legislation, however, the purpose of the federal inspection statutes is to insure the seagoing safety of vessels subject to inspection. Thus 46 U.S.C. § 392(c), 46 U.S.C.A. § 392(c), makes clear that inspection of boilers and related equipment is for the purpose of seeing to it that the equipment 'may be safely employed in the service proposed.' The safety of passengers, 46 U.S.C. § 391(a), 46 U.S.C.A. § 391(a), and of the crew, 46 U.S.C. § 391(b), 46 U.S.C.A. § 391(b), is the criterion. The thrust of the federal inspection laws is clearly limited to affording protection from the perils of maritime navigation. Cf. Ace Waterways v. Fleming, D.C., 98 F.Supp. 666. See also Steamship Co. v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
488 practice notes
  • Mariniello v. Shell Oil Co., No. 74--1385
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • February 14, 1975
    ...(state anti-discrimination laws more comprehensive than federal). 20 Kewanee, supra note 17; Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 80 S.Ct. 813, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960). See Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 91 S.Ct. 1704, 29 L.Ed.2d 233 (1971), striking down a state statu......
  • Lewis v. Bt Investment Managers, Inc, No. 79-45
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1980
    ...53 L.Ed.2d 383 (1977); Great A&P Tea Co. v. Cottrell, 424 U.S., at 371-372, 96 S.Ct., at 927-928; Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 443, 80 S.Ct. 813, 815, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960). The principal focus of inquiry must be the practical operation of the statute, since the validi......
  • Allied Artists Pictures Corp. v. Rhodes, No. C-2-78-1031.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • July 10, 1980
    ...are without power to regulate in this area. Exxon Corporation, 437 U.S. at 128-29, 98 S.Ct. at 2215. Cf. Huron Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 448, 80 S.Ct. 813, 818, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 In the case before the Court, there has been some testimony relating to inconvenience the Act causes plai......
  • Miller v. California 8212 73 18 8212 19, 1972, No. 70
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1973
    ...lines. See, e.g., Head v. New Mexcio Board, 374 U.S. 424, 83 S.Ct. 1759, 10 L.Ed.2d 983 (1963); Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 80 S.Ct. 813, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960); Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622, 71 S.Ct. 920, 95 L.Ed. 1233 (1951); H. P. Hood & Sons v. Du Mond, 336 U......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
484 cases
  • Mariniello v. Shell Oil Co., No. 74--1385
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • February 14, 1975
    ...(state anti-discrimination laws more comprehensive than federal). 20 Kewanee, supra note 17; Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 80 S.Ct. 813, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960). See Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 91 S.Ct. 1704, 29 L.Ed.2d 233 (1971), striking down a state statu......
  • Lewis v. Bt Investment Managers, Inc, No. 79-45
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1980
    ...53 L.Ed.2d 383 (1977); Great A&P Tea Co. v. Cottrell, 424 U.S., at 371-372, 96 S.Ct., at 927-928; Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 443, 80 S.Ct. 813, 815, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960). The principal focus of inquiry must be the practical operation of the statute, since the validi......
  • Allied Artists Pictures Corp. v. Rhodes, No. C-2-78-1031.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • July 10, 1980
    ...are without power to regulate in this area. Exxon Corporation, 437 U.S. at 128-29, 98 S.Ct. at 2215. Cf. Huron Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 448, 80 S.Ct. 813, 818, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 In the case before the Court, there has been some testimony relating to inconvenience the Act causes plai......
  • Miller v. California 8212 73 18 8212 19, 1972, No. 70
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1973
    ...lines. See, e.g., Head v. New Mexcio Board, 374 U.S. 424, 83 S.Ct. 1759, 10 L.Ed.2d 983 (1963); Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 80 S.Ct. 813, 4 L.Ed.2d 852 (1960); Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U.S. 622, 71 S.Ct. 920, 95 L.Ed. 1233 (1951); H. P. Hood & Sons v. Du Mond, 336 U......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • The Supreme Court Opens a Door in ARCO v. Christian, Part Two
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 51-4, April 2021
    • April 1, 2021
    ...(1996). Environmental regulation is a ield that the states have traditionally occupied. See Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit , 362 U.S. 440, 442, 80 S. Ct. 813, 4 L. Ed. 2d 852 (1960). Accordingly, even if the express language of the states’ rights saving clause here did not pre......
  • Minimizing Constitutional Risk in State Energy Policy: A Survey of the State of the Law
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 45-5, May 2015
    • May 1, 2015
    ...outside the state, because the freezer ships and on-shore facilities served diferent markets). 19. Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 443-44 (1960) ( quoting Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99, 103 (1876)). 20. See United Haulers Ass’n, Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt.......
  • Empowering Local Autonomy and Encouraging Experimentation in Climate Change Governance: The Case for a Layered Regime
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 39-12, December 2009
    • December 1, 2009
    ...U.S. 93, 101 (1989) (quoting Rice , 331 U.S. at 230). 67. Atkin v. Kansas, 191 U.S. 207 (1903). 68. Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 442 (1960) (“Legislation designed to free from pollution the very air that people breathe clearly falls within the exercise of even the mos......
  • The Legislative History of U.S. Air Pollution Control
    • United States
    • Air pollution control and climate change mitigation law
    • August 18, 2010
    ...Air Pollution: Its Control and Abatement , 8 Vand. L. Rev. 854 (1955). 15. See, e.g ., Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 448 (1960). In 1940, St. Louis became nationally known for its technologically innovative smoke elimination eforts. One of the most successful l......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT