Wilkerson v. Rahrer

Decision Date25 May 1891
Citation35 L.Ed. 572,11 S.Ct. 865,140 U.S. 545
PartiesWILKERSON, Sheriff, v. RAHRER
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

This was an application for a writ of habeas corpus made to the circuit court of the United States for the district of Kansas by Charles A. Rahrer, who alleged in his petition that he was illegally and wrongfully restrained of his liberty by John M. Wilkerson, sheriff of Shawnee county, Kan., in violation of the constitution of the United States. The writ was issued, and, return having been made thereto, the cause was heard on the following agreed statement of facst: 'It is understood and agreed by and between the attorneys for the petitioner herein and the respondent that the above-entitled application to be discharged upon writ of habeas corpus shall be heard and decided upon the following facts, namely: That H. C. Maynard and Lisle Hopkins are citizens and residents of the state of Missouri, and are partners doing business at Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, under the firm name of Maynard, Hopkins & Co.; that said Maynard, Hopkins & Co. are, and were at all the times herein mentioned, doing a general wholesale business in Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, in the sale of intoxicating liquors; that said Maynard, Hopkins & Co. do a general business of packing and shipping intoxicating liquors from their place of business in Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, to various points in the state of Kansas and other states; that in June, 1890, the said Maynard, Hopkins & Co. constituted and appointed the petitioner herein, Charles Rahrer, a citizen of the United States, their lawful aget i n the city of Topeka, in the state of Kansas, to sell and dispose of for them in original packages liquors shipped by the said Maynard, Hopkins & Co. from the state of Missouri to Topeka, in the state of Kansas; that in July, 1890, the said Maynard, Hopkins & Co. shipped to the city of Topeka, in the state of Kansas, from Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, a car-load of intoxicating liquors packed by them and shipped from Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, in original packages, which car-load of intoxicating liquors so shipped was taken charge of by the petitioner herein, Charles Rahrer, at Topeka, in the state of Kansas, as the agent of Maynard, Hopkins & Co.; that on the 9th day of August, 1890, the said Charles Rahrer, as agent of the said Maynard, Hopkins & Co., offered for sale and sold in the original package a portion of said liquor, so shipped by the said Maynard, Hopkins & Co., to-wit, one pony keg of beer, being a four-gallon keg, which keg was in the same condition in which it was shipped from Kansas City, in the state of Missouri, to Topeka, in the state of Kansas; that said keg of beer was separate and distinct from all other kegs of beer so shipped, and was shipped as a separate and distinct package by Maynard, Hopkins & Co. from Kansas City, in the state of Missouri; that the petitioner, Charles A. Rahrer, on the 9th day of August, 1890, offered for sale, and sold, one pint of whisky, which was a portion of the liquor shipped by Maynard, Hopkins & Co., as above stated; that said pint of whisky was sold in the same condition in which it was shipped from the state of Missouri and received in the state of Kansas; that it was separate and distinct from every other package of liquor so shipped, and was sold in the same package in which it was received, being securely in closed in a wooden box of sufficient size to hold said pint bottle of whisky. It is further agreed that Charles A. Rahrer, the petitioner herein, was not the owner of said liquor, but was simply acting as the agent of Maynard, Hopkins & Co., who were the owners of said liquor. That on the 21st day of August, 1890, there was filed in the office of the clerk of the district court of Shawnee county, Kan., an information by R. B. Welch, county attorney of said county, together with affidavit of Otis M. Capron and John C. Butcher appended and attached thereto, and in support thereof, taken under paragraph 2543, Gen. St. 1889, charging the said Charles A. Rahrer with violating the prohibitory liquor law of the state of Kansas by making the two sales hereinbefore mentioned. A copy of said information and affidavits so filed is attached to the return of the respondent herein and is hereby referred to and made a part hereof. That the petitioner herein, Charles A. Rahrer, was arrested upon a warrant issued upon the information and affidavit heretofore referred to, and is held in custody by the respondent, John M. Wilkerson, sheriff of Shawnee county, by reason of said information so filed and said warrant so issued, and not otherwise. Said Charles A. Rahrer was not a druggist, and did not have, nor did his principals, Maynard, Hopkins & Co., have, any druggist's permit at the time of making the said sales of intoxicating liquor hereinbefore mentioned, nor had he or they ever made any application for a druggist's permit to the probate judge of Shawnee county, Kan., before making such sales of intoxicating liquor as aforesaid. The said sales of intoxicating liquors were not made by said Charles A. Rahrer upon a printed or written affidavit of the applicant for such intoxicating liquors, as required under the prohibitory laws of the state of Kansas. A copy of the warrant under and by virtue of which the respondent, John M. Wilkerson, sheriff of Shawnee county, holds the sald Charles A. Rahrer is attached to the return of the respondent, and is hereby referred to and made a part hereof. The recent act of congress relating to intoxicating liquors, and known as the 'Wilson Bill,' as signed by the president on August ,8 A. D. 1890.' The circuit court discharged the petitioner, and the cause was brought to this court by appeal. The opinion will be found in 43 Fed. Rep. 556.

The constitution of Kansas provides: 'The manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors shall be forever prohibited in this state, except for medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes.' 1 Gen. St. Kan. 1889, p. 107. The sections of the Kansas statutes claimed to have been violated by the petitioner are as follows: 'Any person or persons who shall manufacture, sell, or barter any spirituous, malt, vinous, fermented, or other intoxicat- ing liquors shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and punished as hereinafter provided: provided, however, that such liquors may be sold for medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes, as provided in this act. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to sell or barter for medical, scientific, or mechanical purposes any malt, vinous, spirituous, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors without first having procured a druggist's permit therefor from the probate judge of the county wherein such druggist may be doing business at the time,' etc. 'Any person without taking out and having a permit to sell intoxicating liquors as provided in this act, or any person not lawfully and in good faith engaged in the business of a druggist, who shall directly or indirectly sell or barter any spirituous, malt, vinous, fermented or other intoxicating liquors, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, and be imprisoned in the county jail not less than thirty days nor more than ninety days.' 1 Gen. St. Kan. c. 31, §§ 380, 381, 386. On August 8, 1890, an act of congress was approved, entitled 'An act to limit the effect of the regulations of commerce between the several states and with foreign countries in certain cases,' which reads as follows: 'That all fermented, distilled, or other intoxicating liquors or liquids transported into any state or territory, or remaining therein, for use, consumption, sale, or storage therein, shall upon arrival in such state or territory be subject to the operation and effect of the laws of such state or territory enacted in the exercise of its police powers, to the same extent and in the same manner as though such liquids or liquors had been produced in such state or territory, and shall not exempt therefrom by reason of being introduced therein in original packages or otherwise.' 26 St. 313.

L. B. Kellogg, A. L. Williams, R. B. Welch, and J. N. Ives, for appellant.

Louis J. Blum, Edgar C. Blum, and David Overmyer, for appellee.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 550-554 intentionally omitted] Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

The power of the state to impose restraints and burdens upon persons and property in conservation and promotion of the public health, good order, and prosperity is a power originally and always belonging to the states, not surrendered to them by the general government, nor directly restrained by the constitution of the United States, and essentially exclusive. And this court has uniformly recognized state legislation, legitimately for police purposes, as not, in the sense of the constitution, necessarily infringing upon any right which has been confided expressly or by implication to the national government. The fourteenth amendment, in forbidding a state to make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, or to deprive any person of life liberty, or property without due process of law, or to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, did not invest, and did not attempt to invest, congress with power to legislate upon subjects which are within the domain of state legislation. As observed by Mr. Justice BRADLEY, delivering the opinion of the court in the CivilRig hts Cases, 109 U. S. 3, 13, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 18, the legislation under that amendment cannot 'properly cover the whole domain of rights appertaining to life, liberty, and property, defining them, and providing for their vindication. That would be to establish a code of municipal law regulative of...

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