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March 23, 1914



White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney

Author: Lamar

[ 232 U.S. Page 702]

 MR. JUSTICE LAMAR delivered the opinion of the court.

The Michigan Local Option Law of 1889 (Pub. Acts, No. 207), makes it unlawful to manufacture or sell malt, vinous, spirituous or intoxicating liquors in any county where a majority of the electors vote in favor of prohibition.

The provisions of the law, however, do not (§ 1) apply to druggists selling such liquors in compliance with the restrictions imposed upon them by the general laws of this State. It was also provided (§ 15) that "nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prohibit the sale of wine for sacramental purposes, nor shall anything herein contained

[ 232 U.S. Page 703]

     prohibit druggists or registered pharmacists from selling or furnishing pure alcohol for medicinal, art, scientific and mechanical purposes;" Public Acts of Michigan for 1889, pp. 287, 293.

By amendments passed in 1899 and 1903 (acts of 1899, p. 280; acts of 1903, p. 229), it was further provided that the act should not be construed to "prohibit the sale of wine or cider made from home grown fruit in quantities of not less than five gallons, nor . . . to prohibit the manufacture of wine or cider, nor . . . to prohibit the sale at wholesale of wine or cider manufactured in said [dry] county to parties who reside outside of said county."

As a result of an election held April 13, 1909, the law became operative in Jackson County on May 1st, 1909. The defendants, who were officers of a brewing company, were charged with having thereafter manufactured beer in that county, in violation of the statute. They moved to quash the Information, upon the ground that the act was void because it interfered with interstate commerce, took property without due process of law, and so discriminated against them and other manufacturers residing in dry counties as to deny them the equal protection of the law. These defenses were overruled. On the trial they offered evidence tending to show that the beer which they had manufactured had not been made for sale, but to be used in causing re-fermentation of 1600 barrels of beer worth $5 a barrel, which was on hand at the date of the election, with a view of making it salable, and thereby save themselves against loss. Under the charge of the court, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. The case was then taken to the Supreme Court of Michigan, which held (167 Michigan, 477) that the amendments of 1899 and 1903 (permitting the manufacture and sale of wine and cider in dry counties), were void as an unlawful discrimination against the products and citizens of other States and

[ 232 U.S. Page 704]

     a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The court, however, sustained the conviction and sentence of defendants upon the ground that the original Local Option Act was constitutional and had not been rendered invalid by the void amendments of 1899 and 1903. The case was then brought here where, in addition to the errors previously assigned, the plaintiffs in error -- defendants in the trial court -- insisted that the court erred in holding that the act could be valid if the amendments relative to wine and cider were stricken -- said provisions "being a part of the Act at the time the Local Option Law was adopted in Jackson County, where defendants reside, and operating, together with the other provisions of the Act, to bring about such adoption."

1. The argument here was principally directed to a discussion of this assignment of error -- the defendants contending that the discriminatory wine-and-cider amendments formed an integral part of the law (Endlich on Statutes, §§ 94, 294) which had been submitted to the voters and which, when adopted, it was claimed, was adopted as a whole. It was insisted that the provisions permitting the manufacture and sale of wine and cider induced many to vote for the law as amended, and it was, in effect, argued that these amendments could not be treated as a part of the statute for the purpose of carrying the election and then be held void in order to save the law from being set aside as discriminatory. In support of this contention, defendants relied on State ex rel. Huston v. Commissioners, 5 Oh. St. 497, where the court was considering a local option statute, one section of which provided for an election to determine whether a county seat should be removed, and another ...

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