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LEWIS PUBLISHING CO. V. MORGAN, 229 U. S. 288 (1913)

U.S. Supreme Court

Lewis Publishing Co. v. Morgan, 229 U.S. 288 (1913)

Lewis Publishing Company v. Morgan

Nos. 819, 818

Argued December 2, 3, 1912

Decided June 10, 1913

229 U.S. 288


From the beginning, Congress, in exerting its power under the Constitution to establish post offices, has acted upon the assumption that it is not bound by any hard and fast rule of uniformity, and has always assumed the right to classify in its broadest sense.

Congress always has given, and, subject only to the express limitations of the Constitution, can give, special mail advantages to favor the circulation of newspapers, and has also fixed the general standard and imposed conditions upon which these privileges can be obtained.

The provisions in § 2 of the Post Office Appropriation Act of 1912 regarding publications and conditions under which they can be carried in the mail construed, and held that:

Those provisions are intended simply to supplement existing legislation relative to second-class mail matter, and not as an exertion of legislative power to regulate the press, curtail its freedom, or to deprive one not complying therewith of all right to use the mail service.

A provision in a departmental appropriation act gives rise to the inference that it concerns the general subject under control of that Department.

A provision in a post office appropriation act referring to the entering of mail matter refers to second-class mail, as that is the only class to which the word "enter" can apply.

Requirements in the second paragraph of a statutory provision held to apply to articles enumerated in the preceding paragraph

Page 229 U. S. 289

when the words used cannot otherwise be reasonably construed, and when it also appears that, as passed by the first enacting chamber, the two paragraphs subsequently divided were embodied in one paragraph.

A penalty of denial of the privileges of the mail for failure to comply with requirements applicable only to second-class matter does not amount to entire exclusion from use of the mail.

Requirements in regard to publications entitled to be entered as second-class mail and sanctioned by the penalty of exclusion from the privileges of such second-class are not to be construed as independent regulation of such publications, but only as condition precedent to retaining the privileges of second-class mail after entry of the publication, and so held as to the provision that paid for matter in periodicals must be marked "advertisement" under penalty of exclusion from the privileges of the mail.

Legislative history of a statute can be examined to enable the Court to construe it.

The requirements in § 2 of the Post Office Appropriation Act of 1912 that certain specified information be presented to the Postmaster General and that all paid for matter, editorial and otherwise, be marked "advertisement" under penalty of exclusion from the privileges of the mail held not to be an unconstitutional abridgment of the freedom of the press protected by the First Amendment or a denial of due process of law under the Fifth Amendment, or as denial of the use of the mail, but only a requirement relating to second-class mail matter sanctioned by exclusion from the privileges of the mail in that regard.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality and construction of the provisions in the Post Office Appropriation Act of 1912 in regard to privileges of second-class mail matter accorded to magazines and other publications, are stated in the opinion.

Page 229 U. S. 296

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