Murray v. Wilson Distilling Company, No. 625

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWhite
Citation213 U.S. 151,53 L.Ed. 742,29 S.Ct. 458
PartiesW. J. MURRAY, John McSween, and Avery Patton, Constituting the State Dispensary Commission of South Carolina, et al., Petitioners, v. WILSON DISTILLING COMPANY et al. and the Fleischmann Company
Docket NumberNo. 625
Decision Date05 April 1909

213 U.S. 151
29 S.Ct. 458
53 L.Ed. 742
W. J. MURRAY, John McSween, and Avery Patton, Constituting the State Dispensary Commission of South Carolina, et al., Petitioners,

v.

WILSON DISTILLING COMPANY et al. and the Fleischmann Company.

No. 625.
Argued February 26 and March 1, 1909.
Decided April 5, 1909.

Page 152

Messrs. B. L. Abney, with whom Mr. J. Fraser Lyon was on the brief, and Mr. W. F. Stevenson, for petitioners:

[Argument of Counsel from pages 152-154 intentionally omitted]

Page 154

Mr. Danial Rountree, with whom Mr. Clifford L. Anderson and Mr. Thomas B. Felder were on the brief, also aruged for petitioners.

Mr. Alfred S. Barnard, with whom Mr. George B. Lester was on the brief, for respondent, the Fleischmann Company:

[Argument of Counsel from pages 154-157 intentionally omitted]

Page 157

Mr. T. Moultrie Mordecai, with whom Mr. Frank Carter, Mr. Simeon Hyde, and H. C. Chedester were on the brief, for respondents, the Wilson Distilling Company.

Mr. Justice White delivered the opinion of the court:

The state of South Carolina, in the year 1892, assumed the exclusive management of all traffic in liquor. To carry out this purpose a board of control was created, composed of the governor, the comptroller general, and the attorney general, clothed with power to supervise the system of liquor traffic which the act embodied, and to adopt general rules and regulations pertaining to the subject. All liquor intended for consumption was required to be bought by an officer styled a commissioner, upon whom was cast the duty of distributing the liquor to local officials, known as dispensers. The funds to initiate the business were drawn from the state treasury. The general features of the act of 1892 were preserved in a statute approved January 2, 1895. S. C. Acts 1895, p. 721. This lastmentioned act is set out in full in a marginal note to the opinion in Scott v. Donald, 165 U. S. 58, 41 L. ed. 632, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 265. In that case it was recognized that the act of 1895 provided for the purchase by the state, through its officers or agents, of all liquor to be sold in South Carolina, and although the act was held to be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, the ruling was not based upon the conception that there was a want of governmental power in the state to become the sole purchaser and seller within its borders of liquor, but exclusively upon the ground that particular provisions contained in the statute discriminated against the products of other states. A new state Constitution was ratified, which went into effect from and after December 31, 1895. Therein it was provided as follows:

Page 158

Article 8, § 11, Constitution, 1895.

'In the exercise of the police power the general assembly shall have the right to prohibit the manufacture and sale and retail of alcoholic liquors or beverages within the state. The general assembly may license persons or corporations to manufacture and sell and retail alcoholic liquors or beverages within the state, under such rules and restrictions as it deems proper; or the general assembly may prohibit the manufacture and sale and retail of alcoholic liquors and beverages within the state, and may authorize and empower state, county, and municipal officers, all or either, under the authority and in the name of the state, to buy in any market and retail within the state liquors and beverages in such packages and quantities, under such rules and regulations, as it deems expedient: Provided, that no license shall be granted to sell alcohol beverages in less quantities than one-half pint, or to sell them between sundown and sunrise, or to sell them to be drunk on the premises: And provided, further, that the general assembly shall not delegate to any municipal corporation the power to issue licenses to sell the same.'

Article 11, § 12, Constitution, 1895.

'All the net income to be derived by the state from the sale or license for the sale of spirituous, malt, vinous, and intoxicant liquors and beverages, not including so much thereof as is now or may hereafter be allowed by law to go to the counties and municipal corporations of the state, shall be applied annually in aid of the supplementary taxes provided for in the sixth section of this article; and if, after said application, there should be a surplus, it shall be devoted to public school purposes, and apportioned as the general assembly may determine: Provided, however, that the said supplementary taxes shall only be levied when the net income aforesaid from the sale or license for the sale of alcoholic liquors or beverages are not sufficient to meet and equalize the deficiencies for which the said supplementary taxes are provided.'

Page 159

Under these provisions, in 1896 (S. C. Acts 1896, p. 123) a new law concerning the liquor traffic was enacted. The statute provided for the election by the general assembly of a state board of control, clothed with power to purchase all liquors for use in the state. A state commissioner, to be appointed by such board, was empowered to furnish liquors to the various local dispensaries provided for in the statute, which were under the immediate authority of county boards having power to appoint officers, known as dispensers, to sell liquors direct to consumers. The act of 1896 was amended in particulars not necessary to be detailed, in March, 1897. In Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Co. 170 U. S. 438, 42 L. ed. 1100, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 674, the contention that the act of 1896, as amended by the act of 1897, was repugnant to the commerce clause of the Constitution, of the United States, was passed upon. The limited ruling made in Scott v. Donald was stated. It was expressly held that the act in question was a manifestation of the police power of the state, and therefore was within the purview of the provisions of the act of Congress commonly referred to as the Wilson act. [26 Stat. at L. 313, chap. 728, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3177.] It was decided that, as the provisions in the prior act, which were held in Scott v. Donald to be discriminatory, had been climinated, the act was not repugnant to the commerce clause of the Constitution in so far as it exerted the absolute control of the state over the purchase and sale of liquor within the state.

In State ex rel. Hay v. Farnum, 73 S. C. 165, 53 S. E. 83, decided in 1905, the supreme court of South Carolina interpreted the dispensary act of 1896, as amended, and expressly held that 'the offices and place of business of the dispensary stand precisely in the same relation to the state as the state treasurer's office.' And, speaking of dispensary system, it was said (p. 171):

'The state has undertaken to take charge of the entire liquor business of the state, and to prohibit any private person or corporation from dealing in liquor, except as they may find warrant in the Constitution and laws of the United States.'

The law of 1896, as amended, was repealed on February 16, 1907. S. C. Acts 1907, p. 463. The repealing act did away

Page 160

with the general control of the traffic by means of a state board, and therefore abolished that board. Instead of the system previously existing, a more local one was substituted. The question whether liquor should be sold in a particular county was left to the voters of the county. If, as the result of an election, it was determined that the traffic in liquor should exist in the county, it was provided that such traffic should be exclusively carried on by means of county boards, appointed by the governor. Conformably to the Constitution, these boards were authorized to buy, 'in the name of the state,' liquors to be sold within the county, with a proviso, however, restricting the liability of the state to the sum of the assets of the local dispensary.

On the same day that the foregoing act was approved there was also approved a statute entitled, 'An Act to Provide for the Disposition of All Property Connected with the State Dispensary, and to Wind up Its Affairs.' The text of this act is in the margin.1 Summarily stated, the act created a commission to

Page 161

consist of five members, to be appointed by the governor, who were required to give bond to the state for the faithful discharge of their duties. To this body was given the control of all the funds, assets, and property, other than real estate, of the state dispensary. It was made the duty of the commission to investigate all facts concerning outstanding claims against the state dispensary, and, for that purpose, to employ counsel as might be approved by the attorney general, and such expert accountants and clerks as were necessary, and to make full report to the governor on the subject. The commission was also authorized, after investigation, to pay, from the proceeds of the dispensary assets which might come into its hands, such claims as were found to be valid, and to turn over the surplus to the state treasury.

The commission thus authorized was appointed and began the discharge of its duties. To this end a list of the outstanding claims asserted to be due was made up, and a hearing concerning their amount and validity was commenced. For the purpose

Page 162

of this hearing a call was made by the commission for the production by the parties asserting claims of original books of entry, showing the previous transactions with the state from which the claims arose, and the production for oral examination of certain witnesses. The right of the commission to enter upon this investigation was disputed by some of the claimants, and they refused to comply with the call made for books and papers and the production of witnesses. Thereupon certain of such claimants invoked the authority of the circuit court of the United States for the district of South Carolina by the commencement of the suits which are now before us. The first was brought against the members of the commission by the Wilson...

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371 practice notes
  • Coffin v. South Carolina Dept. of Social Services, Civ. A. No. 82-803-15.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • January 10, 1983
    ...as will leave no room for any other reasonable construction.'" 415 U.S. at 673, 94 S.Ct. at 1361, quoting Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 464, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909). Moreover, the Court later ruled in Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services e......
  • Taylor v. Com. of Virginia, Civil Action No. 3:95cv1026.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • December 18, 1996
    ...overwhelming implications from the text as [will] leave no room for any other reasonable construction.' Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 464, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909) * * * The mere fact that a State participates in a program through which the Federal Government ......
  • Johnson v. North Carolina, No. 5:11–CV–57.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • October 17, 2012
    ...overwhelming implication from the text as would leave no room for any other reasonable construction.” Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909). In the instant complaint, Plaintiff raises no claims of congressional abrogation, and while Plaintiff ......
  • Heckman v. University of North Carolina, No. 1:97CV00184.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 1998
    ...construction.'" Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 673, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662, 678 (1974) (quoting Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 53 L.Ed. 742, 751 (1909)) (alteration in original). "[T]he mere receipt of federal funds cannot establish that a State h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
366 cases
  • Coffin v. South Carolina Dept. of Social Services, Civ. A. No. 82-803-15.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • January 10, 1983
    ...as will leave no room for any other reasonable construction.'" 415 U.S. at 673, 94 S.Ct. at 1361, quoting Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 464, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909). Moreover, the Court later ruled in Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services e......
  • Taylor v. Com. of Virginia, Civil Action No. 3:95cv1026.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • December 18, 1996
    ...overwhelming implications from the text as [will] leave no room for any other reasonable construction.' Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 464, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909) * * * The mere fact that a State participates in a program through which the Federal Government ......
  • Johnson v. North Carolina, No. 5:11–CV–57.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • October 17, 2012
    ...overwhelming implication from the text as would leave no room for any other reasonable construction.” Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 53 L.Ed. 742 (1909). In the instant complaint, Plaintiff raises no claims of congressional abrogation, and while Plaintiff ......
  • Heckman v. University of North Carolina, No. 1:97CV00184.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 1998
    ...construction.'" Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 673, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662, 678 (1974) (quoting Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151, 171, 29 S.Ct. 458, 53 L.Ed. 742, 751 (1909)) (alteration in original). "[T]he mere receipt of federal funds cannot establish that a State h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Why Open Source Licenses with a Commons Clause May Become Less Common
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Landslide Nbr. 12-2, November 2019
    • November 1, 2019
    ...28. Id. at 238–39 (footnote omitted) (citing Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673). 29. Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673; Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151 (1909). 30. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.S. 666 (1999); Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299 (1990). 31. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.......
  • Patenting Nature
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Landslide Nbr. 12-2, November 2019
    • November 1, 2019
    ...28. Id. at 238–39 (footnote omitted) (citing Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673). 29. Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673; Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151 (1909). 30. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.S. 666 (1999); Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299 (1990). 31. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.......
  • The Changing Landscape of Copyright Infringement and Sovereign Immunity
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Landslide Nbr. 12-2, November 2019
    • November 1, 2019
    ...28. Id. at 238–39 (footnote omitted) (citing Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673). 29. Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673; Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151 (1909). 30. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.S. 666 (1999); Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299 (1990). 31. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.......
  • A New Frontier in Patent Bar Ethics?
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Landslide Nbr. 12-2, November 2019
    • November 1, 2019
    ...28. Id. at 238–39 (footnote omitted) (citing Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673). 29. Edelman , 415 U.S. at 673; Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151 (1909). 30. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.S. 666 (1999); Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v. Feeney, 495 U.S. 299 (1990). 31. Fla. Prepaid II , 527 U.......
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