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Kentucky Whip & Collar Co. v. Illinois Central R. Co., 299 U.S. 334 (1937)

Kentucky Whip & Collar Co. v. Illinois Central R. Co.

No. 138

Argued November 20, 1936

Decided January 4, 1937

299 U.S. 334


1. The power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce is plenary and subject to no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution. P. 299 U. S. 345.

2. Congress may prevent interstate transportation from being used to bring into a State articles which are innocuous in themselves, but the local traffic in which, because of its harmful consequences, has been constitutionally forbidden by the State. Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U. S. 251, distinguished. P. 299 U. S. 348.

3. While the power to regulate interstate commerce resides in the Congress, which must determine its own policy, the Congress may shape that policy in the light of the fact that the transportation in interstate commerce, if permitted, would aid in the frustration of valid state laws for the protection of persons and property. P. 299 U. S. 347.

4. In the exercise of its control over interstate commerce, the means employed by the Congress may have the quality of police regulations. P. 299 U. S. 346.

5. The Act of July 24, 1935, known as the Ashurst-Sumners Act, makes it unlawful to transport in interstate or foreign commerce goods made by convict labor into any State where the goods are intended to be received, possessed, sold, or used in violation of its laws, and requires that packages containing convict-made goods shipped in interstate commerce shall be plainly labeled so as to show the names and addresses of shipper and consignee, the nature of the contents, and the name and location of the penal or reformatory institution where produced. Violation is punished by fine and forfeiture.


(1) Within the federal power over commerce and consistent with due process of law; not an attempt to delegate authority to the State, nor an usurpation of state power, nor an assumption of power enlarged by state action. P. 299 U. S. 351.

(2) Where the subject of commerce is one as to which the power of the State may constitutionally be exerted by restriction or prohibition in order to prevent harmful consequences, the Congress

Page 299 U. S. 335

may, if it sees fit, put forth its power to regulate interstate commerce so as to prevent that commerce from being used to impede the carrying out of the state policy. P. 299 U. S. 352.

(3) The requirement of labels was appropriate to the prohibition against transportation. P. 299 U. S. 352.

(4) The fact that the labeling was required in all shipments of convict-made goods, regardless of the law of the destination, does not invalidate the provision, as its scope could reasonably be deemed to be necessary to accomplish the legitimate purpose of the Act. P. 299 U. S. 354.

84 F.2d 168 affirmed.

Certiorari to review the affirmance of a decree of the District Court, 12 F.Supp. 37, which dismissed a bill brought by the present petitioner to compel the respondent railroad company to accept numerous shipments of convict-made goods.

Page 299 U. S. 343

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