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CLASON v. INDIANA

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: March 27, 1939.

CLASON
v.
INDIANA

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA.

Hughes, McReynolds, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 306 U.S. Page 440]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Supreme Court of Indiana affirmed a judgment which convicted appellant of violating section eleven of the Animals Disposal Act approved March 12, 1937*fn1 (c. 278, Acts 1937) by transporting a dead horse over a highway of that State and into Illinois without license. Forbidden

[ 306 U.S. Page 441]

     transportation is admitted; also that while license can be obtained under prescribed conditions for such transportation within the State it is prohibited for points outside.

Section eleven is a part of a comprehensive statute which requires, and undertakes to regulate, the prompt

[ 306 U.S. Page 442]

     disposition of large dead animals (not slaughtered for human food) under the general supervision of the State Veterinarian. The obvious purpose of the enactment is to prevent the spread of disease and the development of nuisances.

The prescribed plan exacts that within twenty-four hours after death owners shall bury or burn such bodies on their premises, or there deliver them to the representative of a disposal plant licensed to do business within the State. It further directs that the body shall be promptly carried to such plant in a sanitary vehicle and speedily rendered innocuous. The conveyance must be thoroughly and promptly disinfected at the plant.

The validity of the statute was unsuccessfully challenged on the ground that it unduly discriminates against and burdens interstate commerce and thereby violates the Federal Constitution. The Supreme Court of the State reviewed the statute; pointed out its purpose to suppress obvious danger to public health; referred to the means adopted as reasonably appropriate to that end; quoted from Bowman v. Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co., 125 U.S. 465, 489.*fn2 It concluded that dead bodies of animals not

[ 306 U.S. Page 443]

     slaughtered for food are not legitimate subjects of commerce; that the statute is an appropriate sanitary measure whose effect upon interstate commerce, if any, is merely incidental.

As the precise point for our determination, counsel for appellant submit the following --

"The Supreme Court of Indiana erred in holding that the Indiana Dead Animal Disposal Act of 1937 was valid as a reasonable regulation or quarantine and not invalid as a discriminatory prohibition of interstate commerce in commodities recognized as legitimate articles of intrastate commerce, contrary to Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution of the United States."

It seems plain enough that the challenged statute is a sanitary and health measure not intended to cause discrimination against or to burden interstate commerce. Its purpose is to promote the health of the people of the State in feasible ways.

"The power of the State to prescribe regulations which shall prevent the production within its borders of impure foods, unfit for use, and such articles as would spread disease and pestilence, is well established. Such articles, it has been declared by this court, are not the legitimate subject of trade or commerce, nor within the protection of the commerce clause of the Constitution. . . . Nor does it make any difference that such regulations incidentally affect interstate commerce, when the object of the regulation is not to that end, but is a legitimate attempt to protect the people of the State." Sligh v. Kirkwood, 237 U.S. 52, 59-60.

Here, contrary to what seems to be the insistence of counsel, the State has not recognized dead horses as legitimate articles of intrastate commerce. It permits them to be sold only to licensed operators who must transport them immediately under strict sanitary regulations for prompt delivery to a licensed plant there to be rendered

[ 306 U.S. Page 444]

     innocuous without delay by prescribed methods. All this is part of a workable scheme to secure prompt removal of decaying carcasses and thus protect against obvious evils.

We can find no substantial basis for the charge of discrimination against legitimate interstate commerce. That any real burden upon commerce which the State is not free to inhibit will result from the challenged statute seems impossible.

There is no suggestion of conflict with a federal enactment. The mere power of the Federal Government to regulate interstate commerce does not disable the States from adopting reasonable measures designed to secure the health and comfort of their people. The statute under consideration is an effort to discharge an obligation to the public; the means adopted we think are clearly appropriate to this lawful end.

The judgment of the court below must be

Affirmed.

Disposition

214 Ind. 630; 17 N. E. 2d 92, affirmed.


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