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BRIMMER v. REBMAN.

decided: January 19, 1891.

BRIMMER
v.
REBMAN.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA.

Author: Harlan

[ 138 U.S. Page 79]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

William Rebman was tried and convicted before a justice of the peace in Norfolk, Virginia, "a city of fifteen thousand inhabitants or more," of the offence of having wrongfully, unlawfully, and knowingly sold and offered for sale "eightteen pounds of fresh meat, to wit, fresh, uncured beef, the same being the property of Armour & Co., citizens of the State of Illinois, and a part of an animal that had been slaughtered in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, a distance of one hundred miles and over from the said city of Norfolk in the State of Virginia, without having first applied to and had the said fresh meat inspected by the fresh meat inspectors of the said city of Norfolk, he, the said Rebman, then and there well knowing that the said fresh meat was required to be inspected under the laws of Virginia, and that the same had not been so inspected and approved as required by the act of the General Assembly of Virginia, entitled 'An act to prevent the selling of unwholesome meat,' approved February 18, 1890." He was adjudged to pay a fine of $50 for the use of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and $3.75 costs; and, failing to pay these sums, he was, by order of the justice, committed to jail, there to be safely kept until the fine and costs were paid, or until he was otherwise discharged by due course of law.

[ 138 U.S. Page 80]

     He sued out a writ of habeas corpus from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Virginia upon the ground that he was restrained of his liberty in violation of the Constitution of the United States. Upon the hearing of the petition for the writ he was discharged, upon grounds set forth in an elaborate opinion by Judge Hughes, holding the Circuit Court. In re Rebman, 41 Fed. Rep. 867. The case is here upon appeal by the officer having the prisoner in custody.

The sole question to be determined is whether the statute under which Rebman was arrested and tried is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. The statute is as follows:

"Whereas it is believed that unwholesome meats are being offered for sale in this Commonwealth; therefore,

"1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That it shall not be lawful to offer for sale, within the limits of this State, any fresh meats (beef, veal, or mutton) which shall have been slaughtered one hundred miles or over from the place at which it is offered for sale, until and except it has been inspected and approved as hereinafter provided.

"2. The county court of each county and the corporation court of each city of this State shall, in their respective counties and cities, appoint one or more inspectors of fresh meats on the petition of not less than twenty citizens; and it shall be the duty of said inspectors to inspect and approve or condemn all fresh meat offered for sale in this State which has been transported one hundred miles or more from the place at which it was slaughtered.

"3. And for all fresh meat so imspected said inspector shall receive as his compensation one cent per pound, to be paid by the owner of the meat.

"4. It shall be the duty of any and all persons, firms or corporations, before offering for sale in this State, fresh meats, which under the provisions of this act are required to be inspected, to apply to the fresh meat inspector of the county or city where the same is proposed to be sold and have said meat inspected; and for a failure so to do, or for offering to sell any fresh meats condemned by said inspector, the person, firm,

[ 138 U.S. Page 81]

     or corporation so selling or offering to sell shall be fined not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars for each offence, to be recovered before any justice of the peace of the county or city where the violation occurs; provided that, in cities of fifteen thousand inhabitants or more one-half of the fees of inspectors shall be paid into the State treasury; ...


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