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Borden's Farm Products Co., Inc. v. Baldwin, 293 U.S. 194 (1934)

Borden's Farm Products Co., Inc. v. Baldwin

No. 296

Argued November 6, 7, 1934

Decided December 3, 1934

293 U.S. 194


1. The presumption attaching to legislative action is a presumption of fact -- a presumption of the existence of factual conditions supporting the legislation; it is a rebuttable presumption. P. 293 U. S. 209.

2. When a classification made by the legislature is called in question, if any state of facts reasonably can be conceived that would sustain it, there is a presumption of the existence of that state of facts, and he who assails the classification must carry the burden of showing by a resort to common knowledge or other matters which may be judicially noticed, or to other legitimate proof, that the action is arbitrary. P. 293 U. S. 209.

3. That a classification made by a statute is arbitrary may appear on the face of the statute or by facts admitted or proved. P. 293 U. S. 210.

4. Where legislative action is suitably challenged and a rational basis for it is predicated of the particular economic facts of a given trade or industry which are outside the sphere of judicial notice, those facts are properly the subject of evidence and of findings. P. 293 U. S. 210.

5. With the notable expansion of the scope of governmental regulation, and the consequent assertion of violation of constitutional rights, it is increasingly important that, when it becomes necessary for the Court to deal with the facts relating to particular commercial or industrial conditions, they should be presented concretely with appropriate determinations upon evidence, so that conclusions shall not be reached without adequate factual support. P. 293 U. S. 210.

6. That provision of the New York Milk Control legislation which permits dealers not having a "well advertised tradename" to sell milk at a minimum price lower than the minimum imposed on dealers having such a name, and which is limited in its operation to sales in the City of New York, does not appear to have been enacted as a precaution against monopoly, nor in support of a policy to increase the sales of milk. P. 293 U. S. 205.

7. Whether this discriminatory price differential may be justified (1) as a means of protecting a selling advantage which dealers not

Page 293 U. S. 195

having a "well advertised tradename" may have enjoyed before the State's scheme of fixing minimum prices to producers and consumers was adopted, and (2) as a means of insuring a return to old competitive conditions should that scheme be abandoned cannot be determined without knowledge of the particular trade conditions in the City of New York. Those conditions lie largely beyond the range of judicial notice, and, in a case disposed of below, without evidence or findings, by sustaining a motion to dismiss the bill for failure to state a cause of action, this Court cannot undertake to glean the factual basis of the provision from tables and statements in legislative reports not addressed to the subject, or from affidavits submitted to the court below on a motion for a preliminary injunction, which fell with the dismissal of the bill. P. 293 U. S. 207.

8. A New York statute and administrative regulations fixing minimum prices for milk sold in New York City established a differential to the disadvantage of dealers having "a well advertised tradename," requiring in effect that the milk they dealt in be priced at one cent more per quart than milk dealt in by competitors. One of the four dealers classed within the quoted designation sued to enjoin enforcement of the differential, alleging, among other things, that it deprived the plaintiff of a large part of the market for its milk and seriously impaired the value of its property and goodwill, and that it was arbitrary, oppressive, and discriminatory, without any relation to public health or public welfare or to any of the objects for which the statute was enacted. Upon this ground, the bill charged that the statutory provision violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.


(1) That it was error to dismiss the bill as insufficient on its face to state a cause of action. Pp. 293 U. S. 203, 293 U. S. 213.

(2) That the plaintiff should be permitted to proceed with the cause; the motion for preliminary injunction should be heard and decided; there should be a final hearing on pleadings and proofs, and the facts should be found and conclusions of law stated as required by Equity Rule 70 1/2. P. 293 U. S. 213.

7 F.Supp. 352 reversed.

Appeal from a decree of the District Court, constituted of three judges, which dismissed, on a motion equivalent to a demurrer, a bill brought by the Borden Company against Baldwin, Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets of the State of New York, the Attorney General of the State, and five district attorneys, to enjoin enforcement of a provision of the New York Agriculture and Markets Law added by c. 126, Laws of 1934, § 258(q).

Page 293 U. S. 200

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