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United States v. Standard Brewery, Inc., 251 U.S. 210 (1920)

United States v. Standard Brewery, Incorporated

Nos. 458, 474

Argued December 11, 1919

Decided January 5, 1920

251 U.S. 210


The War-Time Prohibition Act prohibits the use of grains, fruits, and other food products in the manufacture of "beer, wine, or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquor for beverage purposes" until the conclusion of the present war, etc. Held that the word "intoxicating" qualifies the terms preceding, thus excluding from the prohibition beer which is not in fact intoxicating. P. 251 U. S. 217.

The act sought to prevent the manufacture of intoxicating liquors because their use might interfere with the consummation of the declared purposes -- to conserve the Nation's manpower and increase efficiency in producing war materials. P. 251 U. S. 219.

Rulings of the Treasury Department holding beer containing but one-half of one percent of alcohol taxable under revenue laws but not involving the consideration of intoxicating quality held irrelevant in the construction of the War-Time Prohibition Act. Id.

The question what percentage of alcohol is enough to constitute a beverage intoxicating within the meaning of the War-Time Prohibition Act is not left by that statute to the determination of the Internal Revenue Department, and its decisions in that regard, though entitled to respect, cannot enlarge the statute so as to make conduct criminal under it. Id.

A construction of an act of Congress which might render it unconstitutional is to be avoided if possible. P. 251 U. S. 220.

Quaere whether Congress, under the war power, could prohibit the manufacture and sale of nonintoxicating beverages? Id.

Page 251 U. S. 211

An indictment must charge each and every element of the offense. P. 251 U. S. 220.

The Court cannot ay as a matter of law that a beverage containing not more than one-half of one percent of alcohol is intoxicating. Id.

260 F. 486 affirmed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

Page 251 U. S. 214

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