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PLUMLEY V. MASSACHUSETTS, 155 U. S. 461 (1894)

U.S. Supreme Court

Plumley v. Massachusetts, 155 U.S. 461 (1894)

Plumley v. Massachusetts

No. 406

Argued April 5-6, 1894

Decided December 10, 1894

155 U.S. 461


The Act of August 2, 1886, c. 840, 24 Stat. 209, does not give authority to those who pay the taxes prescribed by it to engage in the manufacture or sale of oleomargarine in any state which lawfully forbids such manufacture or sale, or to disregard any regulations which a state may lawfully prescribe in reference to that article, and that act was not intended to be, and is not, a regulation of commerce among the states.

The statute of Massachusetts of March 10, 1891, c. 58, "to prevent deception in the manufacture and sale of imitation butter," in its application to the sales of oleomargarine artificially colored so as to cause it to look like yellow butter and brought into Massachusetts, is not in conflict with

Page 155 U. S. 462

the clause of the Constitution of the United States investing Congress with power to regulate commerce among the several states.

Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100, 135 U. S. 124, is restrained in its application to the case there actually presented for determination, and held not to justify the broad contention that a state is powerless to prevent the sale of articles of food manufactured in or brought from another state, and subjects of traffic or commerce, if their sale may cheat the people into purchasing something they do not intend to buy and which is wholly different from what its condition and appearance import.

The judiciary of the United States should not strike down a legislative enactment of a state, especially if it has direct connection with the social order, the health and the morals of its people, unless such legislation plainly and palpably violates some right granted or secured by the national Constitution or encroaches upon the authority delegated to the United States for the attainment of objects of national concern.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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