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MCCORMICK & CO. v. BROWN

decided: May 16, 1932.

MCCORMICK & CO., INC. ET AL
v.
BROWN, STATE COMMISSIONER OF PROHIBITION OF WEST VIRGINIA, ET AL.



APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA.

Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo

Author: Hughes

[ 286 U.S. Page 133]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit was brought by nonresident manufacturers and wholesale dealers to restrain state officers of West Virginia from requiring the complainants to obtain permits from the State Commissioner of Prohibition, and to pay an annual license fee of $50, before shipping certain products into the State to purchasers there for resale.

The bill alleged that, while these products contained ethyl alcohol, they were used and usable solely for medicinal, mechanical, toilet, and culinary purposes, and were not intoxicating liquors or fit for beverage purposes within the meaning of the laws of the United States; that the products were covered by permits issued to the complainants respectively under the National Prohibition Act; and that the shipment and sales in question were to dealers in West Virginia holding state permits. The bill charged that the requirements of the state officers, purporting to act under state legislation, constituted an interference with interstate commerce in violation of the commerce clause of the Federal Constitution, and that the complainants were without remedy at law. In their answer, defendants (appellees) denied that the products in question were used and usable solely for the purposes

[ 286 U.S. Page 134]

     alleged and that none of the products were "intoxicating liquors" and that they were non-intoxicating in fact; and, while admitting that the complainants held permits under the National Prohibition Act, defendants asserted the validity of the state laws and regulations by which state permits and the payment of the license fee were required.

The District Court, composed of three judges (Jud. Code, § 266, U. S. C., § 380) heard and denied, upon the pleadings and affidavits, an application for an interlocutory injunction. Upon final hearing no further evidence was introduced and from the final decree, dismissing the bill, this appeal has been taken.

The Constitution of West Virginia (Art. VI, § 46) prohibits "the manufacture, sale and keeping for sale of malt, vinous or spirituous liquors, wine, porter, ale, beer or any intoxicating drink, mixture or preparation of like nature," except "such liquors for medicinal, pharmaceutical, mechanical, sacramental and scientific purposes" and "denatured alcohol for industrial purposes," dealings in which are permitted under legislative regulations. The legislature was directed to enact such laws as might be necessary to carry these provisions into effect.

The legislative act now in force is Chapter 60 of the West Virginia Official Code (1931). The definition of "liquors" in section one of Article one embraces "all liquids, mixtures or preparations, whether patented or not, which will produce intoxication."*fn1 By section four, selling

[ 286 U.S. Page 135]

     or soliciting or receiving orders for "any liquors" is penalized, "except as hereinafter provided"; and "in case of a sale in which a shipment or delivery of such liquors is made by a common or other carrier," the sale is deemed to be made in the county of delivery.*fn2 ...


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