Published on:

Court Looks at Legality of State Statute


The complainant trader who committed an error was indicted and convicted, under the Revised Statutes of the State, for the criminal act of selling liquor without a license. The indictment contained several specifications but they were all similar.

The jurors, for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, upon their oath present, that a trader man from Georgetown, in said county, he not being then and there first licensed as a retailer of wine and spirits, as provided in the Revised Statutes of said Commonwealth, and without any license therefor duly had according to law, did presume to be, and was, a retailer of wine, brandy, rum, and spirituous liquors, to a buyer, in a less quantity than twenty-eight gallons, and that delivered and carried away all at one time, and did then and there sell to the said buyer, two quarts of spirituous liquors, and no more, against the peace of said Commonwealth and the form of the statute in such case made and provided.

A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said a criminal conviction having taken place under the indictment upon the statutes, the trader filed several exceptions. It appeared upon the trial that some of the sales charged in the indictment were of foreign liquors, and his Honor directed the jury that the license law of the Commonwealth applied as well to imported spirits as to domestic, and that the Commonwealth could constitutionally control the sale of foreign spirits by retail, and that said law is not inconsistent with constitution or revenue laws of the United States. The accused trader excluded to the ruling.

The court allowed the exception, together with all the others, upon which the case was removed to the Supreme Judicial Court. But that court overruled the exceptions, and ordered judgment to be entered upon the verdict.

The counsel for the trader applied for, and obtained, a writ of error to bring the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, upon the criminal act allegation. The several acts of the legislature of Massachusetts concerning licensed houses and the sale of intoxicating liquors, and especially the acts which are hereto appended and set out as part of the record in the said cause, upon which said judgment was founded, and also the opinion and judgment of said Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in the application and construction of said acts to the sales of imported foreign liquors and spirits by the said trader, are repugnant to, and inconsistent with, the provisions of the constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States, in so far as the said acts, and the construction thereon by the said Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, prohibit, restrain, control, or prevent the sale of imported wines and spirituous liquors, by retail or otherwise, in the said State of Massachusetts, and are therefore void.

The counsel of the trader opened the case. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the best mode of presenting his views of the points which arose will be, to reprint the brief filed by himself and his colleague in the former argument.

The accused trader seeks to reverse the judgment, upon the general ground that those statutes are repugnant to constitutional acts of Congress, and to the constitution of the United States; and contends that they prohibit even the importer of foreign spirits from selling them in the bottle, keg, or cask in which he imports them, either for consumption at the place of sale, or for carrying away; and are therefore unconstitutional.

The statutes of Massachusetts are not auxiliary to, cooperative with, and merely regulative of, the legislation of Congress, which admits foreign spirits to importation under prescribed rates of duty, but are adverse to and in contravention of it, since they seek to diminish and discourage the sales of imported spirits to a greater degree than the legislation of Congress seeks to do it, upon the ground that the policy of Congress in this behalf is an erroneous policy.

A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said to maintain this, the object and operation of the Massachusetts statutes, and the policy and the principle of constitutional power upon which they proceed, are to be considered. Without a license, no one can sell, in a single instance, spirits to be used on the premises of the vendor, and no one can sell them for the purpose of being carried away, in a less quantity than twenty-eight gallons, which must be bought and removed all at one time.

The result, therefore, is that without a license no one can sell spirits to be used, or to be carried away for use, since no one purchases for use so large a quantity as twenty-eight gallons to be carried away at one time. A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said without a license, therefore, no one can sell at all by retail; and the retail trade in spirits, the sale of spirits for use, is suppressed. o one is entitled to a license, or can exact it, whatever be his character or fitness to trade.

The difference, therefore, between them and all laws of mere policy, of quarantine, health, harbors, storage of gunpowder, and the like, is that those laws are auxiliary to, in aid and furtherance of, cooperative with, the congressional legislation, while these deny its policy, and thwart and restrain its operations.

The statutes do not confine themselves to providing for suitable persons, places, and modes of selling foreign spirits, so as to secure the largest amount of traffic in the most expedient and prudent manner; but they mean, substantially and effectually, to put an end to the traffic.

The trader contends that it would be unacceptable to, and in fraud of, the license, either to ordain that no one shall buy of the importer, or to ordain that no one, having bought, shall resell, because either prohibition would totally defeat the license itself. The license is a license to carry the article to market, to trade in it, to have access with it to the consuming capacity of the country.

The grounds, on which Congress legislates, in passing such an act and the just expectations and reasoning of the importer, prove this. The interception of the article in the hands of the first buyer, on its way to a market, excludes it from market, and shuts the importer from the country as really as if he were prohibited to sell.

It may be proper, also, in this connection, to reprint the abstract of the argument of the trader’s counsel upon the same side, to show the reasons given for the doctrine sustained by the counsel for the trader.

It has already been shown that inspection laws, quarantine laws, health laws of every description, as well as laws for regulating the internal commerce of a State, originate from powers which are reserved to the States. They deal with foreign commerce, asserting, as will appear by their provisions, absolute control over it for certain purposes which are connected with the public welfare and safety. The inspection laws authorize the detention and examination of merchandise, and the imposition of marks which denote its true character, and often affect its value.

Quarantine laws direct possession to be taken of vessels arriving, and require them, with their crews, passengers, and cargoes, to be detained, and forbid intercourse with the shore. The health laws carry with them a similar authority, and provide not only for detention, but for the purification, and, if necessary, the destruction of the cargo.

It is also obvious, that the court has never denied, but, on the other hand, has always admitted, the right of a State to make police regulations, to protect life, health, and the property of the citizens, and the right to extend this protection against the dangers incident to foreign commerce has uniformly been distinctly recognized.

It can neither be admitted nor maintained that the United States, under a general power to regulate foreign commerce, has a right, without restraint, and in defiance of State powers, to import disease and pestilence, to fill the country with infamous persons, or to debauch the public morals. Such is not the design of the constitution; and if such a right shall be successfully asserted, it will soon prove that the federal and State governments cannot exist together.

A careful examination of the many decisions will prove that the court has anxiously studied to fix, as far as circumstances will permit, definite boundaries to sovereignty, leaving them to depend as little as possible upon questions of incompatibility or repugnancy.

The police laws of the State have uniformly been maintained, on the ground that the States have a right to make them, and this right is not to be questioned, although in the exercise of it the laws and power of the United States are and must be affected, or the remedy against alarming evils be incomplete. It seems to me that the court have practically, and for the best of reasons, placed such laws on the ground that they emanate from exclusive and independent powers enjoyed by the States.

The laws of the United States do permit the importation of wines in bottles, and brandy in kegs of fifteen gallons. Formerly, brandy could not be brought in, in vessels of less capacity than ninety gallons; but the quantity was reduced, as is well known, to favor the export to Mexico, where so large a quantity could not be taken into the interior upon pack-horses.

But if these laws were intended, as is supposed, to regulate the internal trade of the States, they could not be sustained, as Congress has no power or right to regulate that traffic. They have, however, never been understood to have any such bearing; but to be what they purport, regulations of imports and exports.

It is admitted, in the above case, that the liquors alleged in said indictment to have been sold by the accused trader, in violation of the act of the State. An act enabling town councils to grant licenses for the retailing strong liquors, and for other purposes, was brandy, the growth, produce, and manufacture of the kingdom of France; which the said brandy was duly imported into the United States at the port of Boston, in the district of Massachusetts, for the purpose of sale in the markets of the United States, and the duties levied thereon by virtue of the act of Congress of the United States, approved the act to provide revenue from imports, and to change and modify existing laws imposing duties on imports, and for other purposes. The said trader bought the said brandy of the importer thereof for the purpose of sale; and, in pursuance of said purpose, did, at the times alleged in said indictment, sell the same, at said Cumberland, without license first had and obtained from the town council of the town of Cumberland.

It is further agreed that the town council of said town of Cumberland have refused to grant any license for the year ensuing the Thursday next following the first Wednesday for retailing strong liquors in any quantities, having been instructed by the electors of said town, in town meeting assembled, not to grant any licenses for the purpose aforesaid.

The trader was indicted upon two counts. The first was for selling strong liquor, to wit, rum, gin, and brandy, by retail, in a less quantity than ten gallons, without license; and the second, for selling, and suffering to be sold, in his possessions, ale, wine, and other strong liquors, by retail. Upon this indictment he was convicted of a criminal act.

Government regulates products to make sure that it is not being abused. When businessmen choose to go against what is just, the government will surely loose big amount of money because it is a form of stealing. If you are accused of crime, consult a Suffolk Criminal Attorney together with Suffolk Assault Lawyers. Stephen Bilkis and Associates can also provide you with Suffolk Domestic Violence Attorneys and Suffolk Order of Protection Lawyers.

Posted in: , , and
Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information