Stark v. Wickard, No. 211

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREED
PartiesSTARK et al. v. WICKARD, Secretary of Agriculture, et al
Docket NumberNo. 211
Decision Date28 February 1944

321 U.S. 288
64 S.Ct. 559
88 L.Ed. 733
STARK et al.

v.

WICKARD, Secretary of Agriculture, et al.

No. 211.
Argued Jan. 14, 1944.
Decided Feb. 28, 1944.

Mr. Edward B. Hanify, of Boston, Mass., for petitioners.

Page 289

Mr. Paul A. Freund, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This class action was instituted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to procure an injunction prohibiting the respondent Secretary of Agriculture from carrying out certain provisions of his Order No. 4, effective August 1, 1941, dealing with the marketing of milk in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts, area. See Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 50 Stat. 246, 7 U.S.C. § 601 et seq., 7 U.S.C.A. § 601 et seq., and Order 4, United States Department of Agriculture, Surplus Marketing Administration, Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 904. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and its judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 136 F.2d 786. The respondent War Food Administrator was joined in this court upon a showing that he had been given powers concurrent with those of the Secretary. See Executive Order No. 9334, 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix, § 601 note, filed April 23, 1943, 8 F.R. 5423, 5425. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the question to the administration of this Act. 320 U.S. 723, 64 S.Ct. 58.

The petitioners are producers of milk, who assert that by §§ 904.7(b)(5) and 904.9 of his Order, the Secretary is unlawfully diverting funds that belong to them. The courts below dismissed the action on the ground that the Act vests no legal cause of action in milk producers, and since the decision below and the argument here were lim-

Page 290

ited to that point, we shall confine our consideration to it.

The district court for the District of Columbia has a general equity jurisdiction authorizing it to hear the suit;1 but in order to recover, the petitioners must go further and show that the act of the Secretary amounts to an interference with some legal right of theirs.2 If so, the familiar principle that executive officers may be restrained from threatened wrongs in the ordinary courts in the absence of some exclusive alternative remedy will enable the petitioners to maintain their suit; but if the complaint does not rest upon a claim of which courts take cognizance, then it was properly dismissed. The petitioners place their reliance upon such rights as may be expressly or impliedly created by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 and the Order issued thereunder.

Although this Court has previously reviewed the provisions of that statute at length and upheld its constitutionality,3 some further reference to it is necessary to an understanding of the producer's interest in the funds dealt with by the Order.4

Page 291

The immediate object of the Act is to fix minimum prices for the sale of milk by producers to handlers. It does not forbid sales at prices above the minimum. It contains

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state commerce as will establish prices to farmers at a level that will give agricultural commodities a purchasing power with respect to articles that farmers buy, equivalent to the purchasing power of agricultural commodities in the base period; and, in the case of all commodities for which the base period is the prewar period, August 1909 to July 1914, will also reflect current interest payments per acre on farm indebtedness secured by real estate and tax payments per acre on farm real estate, as contrasted with such interest payments and tax payments during the base period. The base period in the case of all agricultural commodities except tobacco and potatoes shall be the prewar period, August 1909-July 1914. In the case of tobacco and potatoes, the base period shall be the postwar period, August 1919—July 1929.

'(2) To protect the interest of the consumer by (a) approaching the level of prices which it is declared to be the policy of Congress to establish in subsection (1) of this section by gradual correction of the current level at as rapid a rate as the Secretary of Agriculture deems to be in the public interest and feasible in view of the current consumptive demand in domestic and foreign markets, and (b) authorizing no action under this title which has for its purpose the maintenance of prices to farmers above the level which it is declared to be the policy of Congress to establish in subsection (1) of this section.'

'Sec. 8a(5) Any person willfully exceeding any quota or allotment fixed for him under this title by the Secretary of Agriculture, and any other person knowingly participating, or aiding, in the exceeding of said quota or allotment, shall forfeit to the United States a sum equal to three times the current market value of such excess, which forfeiture shall be recoverable in a civil suit brought in the name of the United States.

'(6) The several district courts of the United States are hereby vested with jurisdiction specifically to enforce, and to prevent and restrain any person from violating any order, regulation, or agreement, heretofore or hereafter made or issued pursuant to this title, in any proceeding now pending or hereafter brought in said courts.

'(7) Upon the request of the Secretary of Agriculture, it shall be the duty of the several district attorneys of the United States, in their respective districts, under the directions of the Attorney General, to institute proceedings to enforce the remedies and to collect the for-

Page 292

Footnote 4--Continued.

feitures provided for in, or pursuant to, this title. Whenever the Secretary, or such officer or employee of the Department of Agriculture as he may designate for the purpose, has reason to believe that any handler has violated, or is violating, the provisions of any order or amendment thereto issued pursuant to this title, the Secretary shall have power to institute an investigation and, after due notice to such handler, to conduct a hearing in order to determine the facts for the purpose of referring the matter to the Attorney General for appropriate action.

'(8) The remedies provided for in this section shall be in addition to, and not exclusive of, any of the remedies or penalties provided for elsewhere in this title or now or hereafter existing at law or in equity.

'(9) The term 'person' as used in this title includes an individual, partnership, corporation, association, and any other business unit.'

'Sec. 8c(3) Whenever the Secretary of Agriculture has reason to believe that the issuance of an order will tend to effectuate the declared policy of this title with respect to any commodity or product thereof specified in subsection (2) of this section, he shall give due notice of and an opportunity for a hearing upon a proposed order.

'(4) After such notice and opportunity for hearing, the Secretary of Agriculture shall issue an order if he finds, and sets forth in such order, upon the evidence introduced at such hearing (in addition to such other findings as may be specifically required by this section) that the issuance of such order and all of the terms and conditions thereof will tend to effectuate the declared policy of this title with respect to such commodity.

'(5) In the case of milk and its products, orders issued pursuant to this section shall contain one or more of the following terms and conditions, and (except as provided in subsection (7)) no others:

'(A) Classifying milk in accordance with the form in which or the purpose for which it is used, and fixing, or providing a method for fixing, minimum prices for each such use classification which all handlers shall pay, and the time when payments shall be made, for milk purchased from producers or associations of producers. Such prices shall be uniform as to all handlers, subject only to adjustments for (1) volume, market, and production differentials customarily applied by the handlers subject to such order, (2) the grade or quality of the milk purchased, and (3) the locations at which delivery of such milk, or any use classification thereof, is made to such handlers.

'(B) Providing:

'(i) for the payment to all producers and associations of producers delivering milk to the same handler of uniform prices for all milk

Page 293

Footnote 4--Continued.

delivered by them: Provided, That, except in the case of orders covering milk products only, such provision is approved or favored by at least three-fourths of the producers who, during a representative period determined by the Secretary of Agriculture, have been engaged in the production for market of milk covered in such order or by producers who, during such representative period, have produced at least three-fourths of the volume of such milk produced for market during such period; the approval required hereunder shall be separate and apart from any other approval or disapproval provided for by this section; or

'(ii) for the payment to all producers and associations of producers delivering milk to all handlers of uniform prices for all milk so delivered, irrespective of the uses made of such milk by the individual handler to whom it is delivered; subject, in either case, only to adjustments for (a) volume, market, and production differentials customarily applied by the handlers subject to such order, (b) the grade or quality of the milk delivered, (c) the locations at which delivery of such milk is made, and (d) a further adjustment, equitably to apportion the total value of the milk purchased by any handler, or by all handlers, among producers and associations of producers, on the basis of their marketings of milk during a representative period of time.

'(C) In order to accomplish the purposes set forth in paragraphs (A) and (B) of this subsection (5), providing a method for...

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295 practice notes
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...S.Ct. 1194, 86 L.Ed. 1563; cf. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. United States, 295 U.S. 476, 55 S.Ct. 822, 79 L.Ed. 1553; Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733. 3. The Davis & Farnum case held that a subcontractor did not have standing to enjoin a municipal ordinance whic......
  • South Puerto Rico Sugar Co. Trad. Corp. v. United States, No. 378-61.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • July 17, 1964
    ...This would have been so even if the plaintiff had not been spurred by a strong business need to import the sugar. See Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 303-305, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944). The plaintiff's standing in that event would be no worse than that of a corporation which can avo......
  • New York v. Trump, 20-CV-5770 (RCW) (PWH) (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2020
    ...here, "courts are normally available to reestablish the limits on his authority." Reich , 74 F.3d at 1328 ; see also Stark v. Wickard , 321 U.S. 288, 309-10, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944) ("When Congress passes an Act empowering administrative agencies to carry on governmental activitie......
  • Copeland v. Secretary of State
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 23, 1964
    ...— the Communist Party — may not assert the interest of that class, "an interest possessed by the people generally," Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 304, 64 S.Ct. 559, 568, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944); Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 488, 43 S.Ct. 597, 67 L.Ed. 1078 (1923), and not personal to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
295 cases
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...S.Ct. 1194, 86 L.Ed. 1563; cf. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. United States, 295 U.S. 476, 55 S.Ct. 822, 79 L.Ed. 1553; Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733. 3. The Davis & Farnum case held that a subcontractor did not have standing to enjoin a municipal ordinance whic......
  • South Puerto Rico Sugar Co. Trad. Corp. v. United States, No. 378-61.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • July 17, 1964
    ...This would have been so even if the plaintiff had not been spurred by a strong business need to import the sugar. See Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 303-305, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944). The plaintiff's standing in that event would be no worse than that of a corporation which can avo......
  • New York v. Trump, 20-CV-5770 (RCW) (PWH) (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2020
    ...here, "courts are normally available to reestablish the limits on his authority." Reich , 74 F.3d at 1328 ; see also Stark v. Wickard , 321 U.S. 288, 309-10, 64 S.Ct. 559, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944) ("When Congress passes an Act empowering administrative agencies to carry on governmental activitie......
  • Copeland v. Secretary of State
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 23, 1964
    ...— the Communist Party — may not assert the interest of that class, "an interest possessed by the people generally," Stark v. Wickard, 321 U.S. 288, 304, 64 S.Ct. 559, 568, 88 L.Ed. 733 (1944); Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 488, 43 S.Ct. 597, 67 L.Ed. 1078 (1923), and not personal to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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