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United States v. Shreveport Grain & Elevator Co., 287 U.S. 77 (1932)

United States v. Shreveport Grain & Elevator Co.

No. 19

Argued October 19, 1932

Decided November 7, 1932

287 U.S. 77


1. Section 2 of the Food and Drugs Act punishes shipment in interstate or foreign commerce of any article of food which is misbranded, and § 8 declares that such an article in package form shall be deemed to be misbranded if the quantity of the contents be not plainly and conspicuously marked on the outside of the package,

Page 287 U. S. 78

in term of weight, measure, or numerical count; with the provision

"[t]hat reasonable variations shall be permitted, and tolerances and also exemptions as to small packages shall be established by rules and regulations made in accordance with section three."

Section three provides that executive officers designated shall make uniform regulations for carrying out the Act. Held that the executive regulations are to fix the variations allowable, as well as tolerances and exemptions, hence the statute is not open to the constitutional objection of uncertainty in defining the offense. P. 287 U. S. 82.

2. A statute should be construed where possible so as to avoid doubt of its validity. Id.

3. In construing a statute, a court will disregard punctuation, or will repunctuate, to show the natural meaning of the word. P. 287 U. S. 82.

4. Reports of congressional committees explaining the bill may be considered in determining the meaning of a doubtful statute, but will not be used to support a construction contrary to the plain import of its terms. P. 287 U. S. 83.

5. Practical and long-continued construction of a statute by executive departments charged with its administration and with the duty of making rules and regulations to carry it out is to be accepted where the statute is doubtful, unless there are cogent and persuasive reasons for rejecting it. P. 287 U. S. 84.

6. The provision of the Food and Drugs Act, supra, for defining by executive regulations the reasonable variations that are permissible from the quantities marked on packages is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. P. 287 U. S. 85.

46 F.2d 354 reversed.

Appeal from a judgment quashing an indictment.

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