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JACOB RUPPERT V. CAFFEY, 251 U. S. 264 (1920)

U.S. Supreme Court

Jacob Ruppert v. Caffey, 251 U.S. 264 (1920)

Jacob Ruppert v. Caffey

No. 603

Argued November 20, 21, 1919

Decided January 6, 1920

251 U.S. 264


The War-Time Prohibition Act was within the war power of Congress when passed, and had neither become invalid by change of circumstances nor expired by its own terms when this suit was begun. P. 251 U. S. 281. Hamilton v. Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Co., ante, 251 U. S. 146.

For the same reasons, Congress had power to enact new prohibitions at the time when the National Prohibition Act, infra was passed. P. 251 U. S. 282.

The National Prohibition Act (October 28, 1919, Title I, § 1), in its provision that

"[t]he words 'beer, wine, or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquors' in the War Prohibition Act shall be hereafter construed to mean any such beverages which contain one-half of one percentum or more of alcohol by volume"

held constitutional. P. 251 U. S. 282.

As a measure reasonably necessary to make the prohibition of intoxicating liquors effectual, Congress, in the exercise of the war power, may prohibit those containing as much as one-half of one percent by volume of alcohol, even though they be not in fact intoxicating. Id.

The argument that power to prohibit nonintoxicating liquors is merely an incident to the power to prohibit intoxicating liquors, implied from clause 18, § 8, of Art. I, of the Constitution, and cannot be upheld because one implied power cannot be grafted upon another, is merely a matter of words, since, rightly understood, the power in question is a single, broad power not merely to prohibit, but to prevent the liquor traffic, like the police power of the states as applied to the same subject. P. 251 U. S. 299.

Some confusion of thought might perhaps have been avoided, if, instead of distinguishing between powers by the term express and implied, the term specific and general had been used, for the power conferred by clause 18, § 8, of Art. I, "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" powers specifically granted is itself an express power. P. 251 U. S. 300.

Page 251 U. S. 265

The fact that the above-cited provision of the National Prohibition Act entail peculiar hardship and loss to owners of breweries and manufactured beer by becoming effective immediately upon its passage does not render it arbitrary and unreasonable. P. 251 U. S. 301.

Such immediate prohibition did not amount to a taking of the nonintoxicating beer previously acquired, for which compensation must be made. P. 251 U. S. 302.

The action of the President, under the Food Control Act, in at first permitting the production of malt liquor containing not more than 2.75 percent of alcohol, in next extending the prohibition to all malt liquors for beverage purposes irrespective of alcoholic content, and in afterwards limiting the prohibition to intoxicating malt liquors, held not to import a finding that 2.75 percent beer is nonintoxicating, or to raise any equity in favor of an owner of beer manufactured after the President's authority over the subject had ceased. P. 251 U. S. 303.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 251 U. S. 278

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