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Central Lumber Co v. South Dakota, 226 U.S. 157 (1912)

Central Lumber Co v. South Dakota

No. 51

Argued November 13, 14, 1912

Decided December 2, 1912

226 U.S. 157


Regulating discriminatory sales made within the state for the purpose of destroying competition is within the legislative power of the state unless the statute conflicts with the Constitution of the United States.

Page 226 U. S. 158

The legislature of a state may direct its police regulations against what it deems an existing evil without covering the whole field of possible abuses. It may direct a law for the protection of trade in accord with its policy against one particular instrument of trade war.

The Fourteenth Amendment does not prohibit state legislation special in character. The legislature may deal with a class which it deems a conspicuous example of what it seeks to prevent, although logically that class may not be distinguishable from others not embraced by the law.

A classification that logically affects only those who deal in more than one place in the state is not necessarily so unreasonable as to amount to denial of equal protection of the laws.

This Court cannot review the economics or facts on which the legislature of a state bases its conclusions that an existing evil should be remedied by an exercise of the police power.

The enactment of police statutes regulating discrimination in prices for the purpose of destroying competition in several states demonstrates that there is a widespread conviction in favor of such regulation.

Chapter 131 of the Laws of South Dakota of 1907, prohibiting unfair discrimination by anyone engaged in manufacture or distribution of a commodity in general use for the purpose of intentionally destroying competition of any regular dealer in such commodity by making sales thereof at a lower rate in one section of the state than in other sections, after equalization for distance, is a constitutional exercise of the police power of the state, and is not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment as depriving persons having more than one place of business in the their property without due process of law or as denying them the equal protection of the laws, or as abridging their liberty of contract.

Where the highest court of a state has construed a statute as aiming at the prevention of a monopoly in a commodity by means likely to be employed and prohibited by the statute, this Court should read the statute as having ultimately in view the benefit of buyers of the goods.

24 S.D. 136 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the federal Constitution of the "one price" statute of the State of South Dakota, are stated in the opinion.

Page 226 U. S. 159

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