Jones v. Rath Packing Company 1976, No. 75-1053

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
Citation430 U.S. 519,97 S.Ct. 1305,51 L.Ed.2d 604
Docket NumberNo. 75-1053
Decision Date29 March 1977
PartiesJoseph W. JONES, as Director of the County of Riverside, California, Department of Weights and Measures, Petitioner, v. The RATH PACKING COMPANY et al. Argued Dec. 6-7, 1976

430 U.S. 519
97 S.Ct. 1305
51 L.Ed.2d 604
Joseph W. JONES, as Director of the County of Riverside, California, Department of Weights and Measures, Petitioner,

v.

The RATH PACKING COMPANY et al.

No. 75-1053.
Argued Dec. 6-7, 1976.
Decided March 29, 1977.*
Rehearing Denied May 16, 1977.

See 431 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 2201.

Syllabus

Section 12211 of the California Business and Professions Code provides that 'the average weight or measure of the packages or containers in a lot of any. . . commodity sampled shall not be less, at the time of sale or offer for sale, than the net weight or measure stated upon the package.' Article 5, § 2930 et seq., of Title 4 of the California Administrative Code in implementing § 12211 requires a statistical sampling process for determining the average net weight of a lot, which implicitly allows for variations from stated weight caused by unavoidable deviations in the manufacturing process but makes no allowance for loss of weight resulting from moisture loss during the course of good distribution practice. Petitioner county Director of Weights and Measures, pursuant to § 12211, ordered removed from sale becon packaged by respondent packing company and flour packaged by respondent millers after he had determined under Art. 5 that the packages were contained in lot whose average net weights were less than the net weights stated on the packages. Respondent packing company's bacon is also subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), as amended by the Wholesome Meat Act, which requires a meat or a meat product package to bear a label showing, inter alia, an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, but permits 'reasonable variations'; and implementing regulations permit 'reasonable variations caused by loss or gain of moisture during the course of good distribution practices or by unavoidable deviation in good manufacturing practice.' The FMIA prohibits labeling or packaging requirements 'different than' those imposed under that statute. The federal alw governing net-weight labeling of respondent millers' flour is contained in

Page 520

the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), which impose the same federal weight labeling standard for four as the FAIM imposes for meat. The FDCA and implementing regulations permit the same kind of reasonable variations from the packaging requirements as does the FMIA and its implementing regulations. The FDCA contains no pre-emptive language but the FPLA in 15 U.S.C.A § 1461 provides that the Act supersedes any state laws that are 'less stringent than or require information different from' the requirements of the FPLA or its implementing regulations. Respondents brought suits in Federal District Court, seeking declarations that § 12211 and Art. 5 were pre-empted by the federal laws and injunctions against enforcement of those provisions. The District Court granted the requested relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Held:

1. With respect to respondent packing company's packaged bacon, § 12211 and Art. 5 are pre-empted by the FMIA. Since California makes no allowance for loss of weight resulting from moisture loss during the course of good distribution practice the state laws' requirement that the label accurately state the net weight, with implicit allowance only for reasonable manufacturing variations is 'different than' the federal requirement, which permits manufacturing deviations and variations caused by moisture loss during good distribution practice. Pp. 528-532.

2. Although 15 U.S.C. § 1461 does not pre-empt § 12211 as implemented by Art. 5, since it appears that the California law is not 'less stringent than' and does not 'require information different from' the FPLA and implementing regulations, nevertheless, with regard to respondent millers' flour, enforcement of § 12211, as implemented by Art. 5, would prevent 'the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.' Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67, 61 S.Ct. 399, 404, 85 L.Ed. 581, in passing the FPLA, an impermissible result under the Constitution, and hence the state law must yield to the federal. The goal of the FPLA to facilitate value comparisons among similar products cannot be accomplished unless packages that bear the same indicated weight in fact contain the same quantity of the product for which the consumer is paying. Here packages of flour that meet the federal labeling requirements and that have the same stated quantity of contents can be expected to contain the same amount of flour solids, since variations from stated weight caused by loss of moisture are permitted, whereas as a result of the application of the California standard, which does not permit such variations, consumers who attempt to compare the value of identically labeled packages of flour would not be comparing packages

Page 521

that contain identical amounts of flour solids and hence would be misled. Pp. 532-543.

530 F.2d 1295 and 530 F.2d 1317, affirmed.

Argument commenced by Loyal E. Keir, Riverside, Cal., for the petitioner and continued by Allan J. Goodman, Los Angeles, Cal., for the State of California et al., as Amici curiae, by special leave of Court.

Page 522

Mr. Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petition Jones is Director of the Department of Weights and Measures in Riverside County, Cal.1 In that capacity he ordered removed from sale bacon packaged by respondent Rath Packing Co. and flour packaged by three millers, respondents General Mills, Inc., Pillsbury Co., and Seaboard Allied Milling Corp. (hereafter millers). Jones acted after determining, by means of procedures set forth in 4 Cal.Admin.Code c. 8, Art. 5, that the packages were contained inlots2 whose average net weight was less than the net weight stated on the packages. The removal orders were authorized by Cal.Bus. & Prof.Code § 12211 (West Supp. 1977).3

Page 523

Rath and the millers responded by filing suits in the District Court for the Central District of California.4 They sought both declarations that § 12211 and Art. 5 are pre-

Page 524

empted by federal laws regulating netweight labeling and injunctions prohibiting Jones from enforcing those provisions. The District Court granted the requested relief5 and, insofar as is relevant here, the Court of Appeals affirmed.6 We granted Jones' petition for certiorari, 425 U.S. 933, 96 S.Ct. 1663, 48 L.Ed.2d 174 (1976),7 and now affirm the judgments of the Court of Appeals.

I

In its present posture, this litigation contains no claim that the Constitution alone denies California power to enact

Page 525

the challenged provisions. 8 We are required to decide only whether the federal laws which govern respondents' packing operations preclude California from enforcing § 12211, as implemented by Art. 5.

Our prior decisions have clearly laid out the path we must follow to answer this question. The first inquiry is whether Congress, pursuant to its power to regulate commerce, U.S.Const., Art. 1, § 8, has prohibited state regulation of the particular aspects of commerce involved in this case. Where, as here, the field which Congress is said to have pre-empted has been traditionally occupied by the States, see, e. g., U.S. Const., Art. I, § 10; Patapsco Guano Co. v. North Carolina, 171 U.S. 345, 358, 18 S.Ct. 862, 867, 43 L.Ed. 191 (1898), 'we start with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States were not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.' Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230, 67 S.Ct. 1146, 1152, 91 L.Ed. 1447 (1947). This assumption provides assurance that 'the federal-state balance,' United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336, 349, 92 S.Ct. 515, 523, 30 L.Ed.2d 488 (1971), will not be disturbed unintentionally by Congress or unnecessarily by the courts. But when Congress has 'unmistakably . . . ordained,' Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142, 83 S.Ct. 1210, 1217, 10 L.Ed.2d 248 (1963), that its enactments alone are to regulate a part of commerce, state laws regulating that aspect of commerce must fall. This result is compelled whether Congress' command is explicitly stated in the statute's language or implicitly contained in its structure and purpose. City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 633, 93 S.Ct. 1854, 1859, 36 L.Ed.2d 547 (1973); Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., supra, 331 U.S. at 230, 67 S.Ct. at 1152.

Congressional enactments that do not exclude all state legislation in same field nevertheless override state laws

Page 526

with which they conflict. U.S.Const., Art. VI. The criterion for determining whether state and federal laws are so inconsistent that the state law must give way is firmly established in our decisions. Our task is 'to determine whether under the circumstances of this particular case, (the State's) law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.' Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67, 61 S.Ct. 399, 404, 85 L.Ed. 581 (1941). Accord, De Canas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 363, 96 S.Ct. 933, 940, 47 L.Ed.2d 43 (1976); Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 649, 91 S.Ct. 1704, 1711, 29 L.Ed.2d 233 (1971); Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, supra, 373 U.S. at 141, 83 S.Ct. at 1217; id., at 165, 83 S.Ct. at 1229; (White, J., dissenting). This inquiry requires us to consider the relationship between state and federal laws as they are interpreted and applied, not merely as they are written. See De Canas v. Bica, supra, 424 U.S. at 363-365, 96 S.Ct. at 940-941; Swift & Co. v. Wickham, 230 F.Supp. 398, 408 (S.D.N.Y.1964), appeal dismissed, 382 U.S. 111, 86 S.Ct. 258, 15 L.Ed.2d 194 (1965), aff'd on further consideration, 364 F.2d 241 (C.A.2d 1966), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 1036, 87...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1189 practice notes
  • Bank activities and operations and real estate lending and appraisals: National banks; State law applicability,
    • United States
    • Federal Register January 13, 2004
    • January 13, 2004
    ...the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.'' U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. \43\ See Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 \44\ See Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). \45\ Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132,......
  • Bank activities and operations and real estate lending and appraisals: National banks; State law applicability,
    • United States
    • Federal Register August 05, 2003
    • August 5, 2003
    ...the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.'' U.S. Const. Art. VI, cl. 2. \11\ See Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 \12\ See Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). \13\ Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132,......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register January 24, 2006
    • January 24, 2006
    ...is not a party is not new. For example, DOJ participated on FDA's behalf in favor of pre-emption in Jones v. Rath Packing Company, 430 U.S. 519 (1977), Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc. v. Gerace, 755 F.2d 993 (2d Cir. 1985), Eli Lilly & Co., Inc. v. Marshall, 850 S.W.2d 155 (Tex. ......
  • Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 28, 2006
    • December 28, 2006
    ...the state measure would require activity that could interfere with, hinder or frustrate the Federal program. Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525-26 (1977); Geier, 529 U.S. at 873. A state or local regulation may be preempted, for example, where that regulation conflicts with an act......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1176 cases
  • In re Southern Air Transport, Inc., No. 99-0188.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Sixth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • August 15, 2000
    ...may be either express or implied, based on the structure and purpose of the relevant federal statute. Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525, 97 S.Ct. 1305, 1309, 51 L.Ed.2d 604 (1977). Federal regulations may have the same preemptive effect as statutes. City of N.Y. v. F.C.C., 486 U.......
  • Frank Bros., Inc. v. Wisconsin Dept. of Transp., No. 03-3207.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 3, 2005
    ...Fed. Savings & Loan Ass'n v. de la Cuesta, 458 U.S. 141, 152-53, 102 S.Ct. 3014, 73 L.Ed.2d 664 (1982) (quoting Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525, 97 S.Ct. 1305, 51 L.Ed.2d 604 2. Implicit Preemption Frank Bros.' first claim on appeal is that congressional legislation, in the for......
  • In re Air Crash at Lexington, Ky., Aug. 27, 2007, Relating To: Civil Action No. 5:06-CV-313 Adams (Fayette Cir. Ct. No. 06-CI-3749),
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • April 13, 2007
    ...and manifest.'" English v. General Electric Co., 496 U.S. 72, 79, 110 S.Ct. 2270, 110 L.Ed.2d 65 (1990)(quoting Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525, 97 S.Ct. 1305, 51 L.Ed.2d 604 Implied preemption may take one of two forms, "ordinary"2 or "complete." Page 647 Complete preemption t......
  • Janvey v. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Comm. Inc., Civil Action No. 3:10–CV–0346–N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • June 22, 2011
    ...States,’ ” however, “congressional intent to supersede state laws must be ‘clear and manifest.’ ” Id. (quoting Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525, 97 S.Ct. 1305, 51 L.Ed.2d 604 (1977)) (alterations in original). 1. FECA's Legislative History Fails to Support the Political Committe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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