Rhodes v. State of Iowa

Decision Date09 May 1898
Docket NumberNo. 21,21
Citation42 L.Ed. 1088,18 S.Ct. 664,170 U.S. 412
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

J. W. Blythe, Thomas Hedge, and

Robert Mather, for plaintiff in error.

Milton Remley, for the State of Iowa.

Mr. Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company was, in 1891, a common carrier, incorporated under the law of Illinois, and operated among others, a line of railway from Dallas, Ill., to Burlington, Iowa, and beyond said point. The Burlington & Western Railway Company was, at the same date, a common carrier, incorporated under the law of Iowa, and operated a line of railway from Burlington, Iowa, to Oskaloosa, in that state, with stations at intervening points, one of which was Brighton, in Washington county. Both of these corporations had a depot at Burlington, which they jointly used. The two carriers had, at the time stated, and for years previous thereto, between themselves, joint freight tariffs, by which transportation under a single through waybill was given to merchandise from any station on either of the lines to any station on the line of the other.

In August, 1891, the Dallas Transportation Company delivered to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, at Dallas, Ill., a wooden box, stated to contain groceries, consigned to William Horn, Brighton, Iowa. It had been the habit of the agent of the Dallas Company before this date to ship intoxicating liquors over the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The box in question was receipted for as through freight, and was billed through in accordance with the custom above stated, was taken to Burlington, Iowa, there delivered to the Burlington & Western Company, by who it was carried to Brighton. On its arrival there the package was placed by the trainmen on the station platform, and shortly afterwards the plaintiff in error, who was the station agent of the Burlington & Western, in the discharge of his duties, opened the door of the freight house, and moved the box into a freight warehouse, which was about six feet from the platform. In about an hour thereafter the box was seized by a constable under a search warrant, on the ground that it contained intoxicating liquors, which proved to be the truth, and subsequently the liquor was condemned, and ordered to be destroyed, and the order was executed. At the time of the seizure the freight charge due to the railways was unpaid. It was admitted that there was nothing on the package to notify the receiving railway of its contents, unless such knowledge can be imputed from the nature of the previous dealings of the Dallas Com- pany with the railway. There was, however, testimony showing that the railroad agent who moved the box from the freight platform to the warehouse had reason to know or suspect that it contained liquor, since it was proven that before the arrival of the box at Brighton a mail carrier called at the station, and asked for a package consigned to William Horn, stating that one was expected from Dallas, and that it would contain intoxicating liquor.

The plaintiff in error was proceeded against by information before a justice of the peace, charging him with the unlawful transportation of intoxicating liquors conveyed from Burlington to Brighton, Iowa. This prosecution was under the provisions of the statutes of the state of Iowa, to which we shall hereafter refer. He was convicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of $100. An appeal from this sentence was taken to the district court, where it was affirmed, in which court, among other defenses, it was alleged that the package in question was not subject to the jurisdiction of the state of Iowa, because at the time of its removal from the platform to the freight warehouse it was in course of interstate commerce transportation. The district court having affirmed the conviction, an appeal was taken to the supreme court of the state of Iowa, where the judgment below was also affirmed. State v. Rhodes, 90 Iowa, 496, 58 N. W. 887. To this judgment of affirmance this writ of error is prosecuted.

The sole question presented for consideration is whether the statute of the state of Iowa can be held to apply to the box in question while it was in transit from its point of shipment, Dallas, Ill., to its delivery to the consignee at the point to which it was consigned; that is to say, whether the law of the state of Iowa can be made to apply to a shipment from the state of Illinois, before the arrival and delivery of the merchandise, without causing the Iowa law to be repugnant to the constitution of the United States.

In Bowman v. Railway Co. (1888) 125 U. S. 465, 8 Sup. Ct. 689, 1062, this court was called upon to determine the validity of a statute of the state of Iowa, which it was asserted was repugnant to the third clause of section 8 of article 1 of the constitution of the United States, because its provisions amounted to a regulation of interstate commerce. The facts upon which the controversy then presented arose were briefly as follows: Kegs of beer were offered in the state of Illinois to a common carrier operating a line of railway in the states of Illionis and Iowa. The beer was consigned to a point in Iowa, and the carrier refused to receive it, on the ground that the statute of Iowa made it unlawful to bring intoxicating liquors within the limits of that state, except when accompanied with a specified certificate, which the Iowa law provided should be granted under particular and exceptional conditions. The one by whom the beer was tendered to the carrier in the state of Illinois thereupon sued the railroad company for the damages claimed to have arisen from its refusal to receive and carry the merchad ise. The railway company defended on the ground that it was justified in its refusal because of the provision of the Iowa statute. This, on the other hand, was asserted not to be an adequate defense, because it was claimed that the Iowa statute was wholly void, as it constituted a regulation of interstate commerce. The sole issue arising therefrom was whether the Iowa law protected the refusing carrier, and thus involved determining whether the statute of the state was repugnant to the constitution of the United States. After great consideration, it was held that the law of the state of Iowa, in so far as it affected interstate commerce, was repugnant to the interstate commerce clause of the constitution, and was void. It was decided that the transportation of merchandise from one state into and across another was interstate commerce, and was protected from the operation of state laws from the moment of shipment while in transit and up to the ending of the journey by the delivery of the goods to the consignee at the place to which they were consigned. The court, in the course of its opinion, adverted to the question whether goods so shipped continued to be protected by the interstate commerce clause after their delivery to the consignee, and up to and including their sale in the original package by the one to whom they had been delivered, but did not decide the question, as it was not essential to do so. Referring to the subject, however, the court said (pages 499, 500):

'It might be very convenient and useful in the execution of the policy of prohibition within the state to extend the powers of the state beyond its territorial limits. But such extraterritorial powers cannot be assumed upon such an implication. On the contrary, the nature of the case contradicts their existence; for, if they belong to one state, they belong to all, and cannot be exercised severally and independently. The attempt would necessarily produce that conflict and confusion which it was the very purpose of the constitution by its delegations of national power to prevent.

'It is easier to think that the right of importation from abroad, and of transportation from one state to another, includes, by necessary implication, the right of the importer to sell unbroken packages at the place where the transit terminates; for the very purpose and motive of that branch of commerce which consists in transportation is that other and consequent act of commerce which consists in the sale and exchange of the commodities transported. Such, indeed, was the point decided in the case of Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419, as to foreign commerce, with the express statement, in the opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, that the conclusion would be the same in a case of commerce among the states. But it is not necessary now to express any opinion upon the point, because that question does not arise in the present case. The precise line which divides the transaction, so far as it belongs to foreign or interstate commerce, from the internal and domestic commerce of the state, we are not now called upon to delineate. It is enough to say that the power to regulate or forbid the sale of a commodity, after it has been brought into the state, does not carry with it the right and power to prevent its introduction by transportation from another state.'

Subsequently, in Leisy v. Hardin (1890) 135 U. S. 100, 10 Sup. Ct. 681, the question which was thus reserved in the Bowman Case arose for adjudication, and it was held that the right to sell the imported merchandise in the original package free from inter- ference of state laws was protected by the constitution of the United States, as up to such sale the goods brought into the state were not commingled with the mass of property in the state. Summing up its conclusions, the court said (135 U. S. 124, 10 Sup. Ct. 689):

'The plaintiffs in error are citizens of Illinois, are not pharmacists, and have no permit, but import into Iowa beer which they sell in orginal packages, as described. Under our decision in Bowman v. Railway Co., supra, they had the right to import this beer into that state, and, in the view which we have expressed, they had the right to sell it, by which act alone, it would become mingled in...

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    ...and shall not be exempt therefrom by reason of being introduced therein in original packages or otherwise." Rhodes v. Iowa, 170 U. S. 412, 18 Sup. Ct. 664, 42 L. Ed. 1088; Act Aug. 8, 1890, c. 728 (26 Stat. 313); Rahrer's Case, 140 U. S. 545, 11 Sup. Ct. 865, 35 L. Ed. 572; Vance v. W. A. V......
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