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ity of legislation by the states in regard to subjects of commerce which are in their nature national, no matter what may be the avowed object of such legislation, and that nothing is gained by calling it the “police power. The subject was elaborately discussed, and with his accustomed force, by Mr. Justice MILLER in Henderson v. Mayor of N. Y., 92 U. S. 259, where it was declared that, however difficult it may often be to distinguish between one class of legislation and another, it is clear, from our complex form of government, that whenever the statute of a state invades the domain of legislation which belongs exclusively to congress it is void, no matter under what class of powers it may fall, or how closely allied to powers conceded to belong to the states. In Railroad Co. v. Husen, supra, it was said: “We admit that the deposit in congress of the power to regulate foreign commerce, and commerce among the states, was not a surrender of that which may properly be denominated police power.' What that power is, it is difficult to define with sharp precision. It is generally said to extend to making regulations promotive of domestic order, morals, health, and safety. * But whatever may be the nature and reach of that power, it was added, “ it cannot be exercised over a subject confided exclusively to congress by the federal constitution. It cannot invade the domain of the national government.” Nor does it matter, in such a case, that congress has not acted; for it is now settled that the silence of congress is not only not a concession that the powers reserved by the states may be exerted as if the specific power had not been elsewhere re. posed, but on the contrary, the only legitimate conclusion is that the general government intended that power should not be affirmatively exercised, and the action of the states cannot be permitted to effect that which would be incompatible with such intention. “ Hence,” as was decided in Leisy ?. Hardin, following many previous decisions, “inasmuch as interstate commerce, consisting in the transportation, purchase, sale, and exchange of commodities, is national in its character, and must be governed by a uniform system, so long as congress does not pass any law to regulate it, or allowing the states so to do, it thereby indicates its will that such commerce shall be free and untrammeled.” In Norfolk & W.R. Co.2. Pennsylvania, 136 U. S. 114, 45 Am. & Eng. R. Cas. % the court, in an opinion by Mr. Justice LAMAR, said :
Whenever a commodity has begun to move as an article of trade from one state to another, commerce in that commodity between the states has commenced. The fact that several different and independent agencies are employed in transporting the commodity, some acting entirely in one state,
lation of commerce.
and some acting through two or more states, does in no respect affect the character of the transaction. To the extent in which each agency acts in that transaction, it is subject to the regulation of congress.” It is also a well-established principle that an article of commerce transported from one state to another is protected by the constitution against in. terfering state legislation until it has mingled with, and become a part of, the common mass of property within the latter state ; and, if this be so, a fortiori is it protected while in transitu. Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat.(U. S.), 419; Welton v. Missouri, 91 U. S. 275 ; Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100. Tested by these principles, which are axiomatic, it is clear that the judgment complained of is erroneous.
That the transportation of the coal and coke mentioned in the proceedings was an act of commerce, national in its char
acter, is too plain, to admit of doubt; and it is equally The statuta clear that the legislation in question, in so far as it void as a regu- extends to a case like the present, is unwarranted
and void. A statute which forbids the running of
interstate freight trains between sunrise and sunset on a Sunday is by its necessary operation, no matter what its professed object may be, a regulation of commerce. At all events it is an obstruction to interstate commerce which for the purposes of the present case amounts to the same thing; for, in any view, it is an invasion of the exclusive domain of congress, and therefore void. To say that the state may, in the exercise of her police powers, enforce by statute the observance of the Sabbath, not as a religious duty, but as a day of rest, is no answer to the constitutional objection here raised. The validity of such legislation, when not in conflict with a higher law, is acknowledged by all, and its wisdom and propriety denied by none, certainly not by this court. But when, in a case like the present, it contravenes the constitution of the United States, the latter must prevail, because it is the supreme law,” in all matters relating to the regulation of interstate commerce. Such a statute, if passed by congress, so far as it concerns foreign or interstate com. merce, would be valid, not however, as the exercise of police power, but as the regulation of commerce; and the reason which would make such legislation valid as an act of congress makes it invalid as an act of a state legislature. As to the effect of the statute in question, if sustained, upon the commercial interests of the country, we need not stop to inquire. It is enough to say that to the extent indicated, it is not valid. In Henderson v. Mayor of N. Y., supra, it was decided that, whatever may be the nature and extent of the police power of the state, “no definition of it, and no urgency ior
its use, can authorize a state to exercise it in regard to a subject matter which has been confined exclusively to the discretion of congress by the constitution.”. This principle was reaffirmed in Leisy v. Hardin, where it is said that such a subject matter is not within the police power of a state, unless placed there by congressional action; and the observations of Mr. Justice MATTHEWS in Bowman v. Chicago & N. W. R. Co., 125 U. S. 465, 23 Am. & Eng. Corp. Cas. 236, were quoted in the opinion, to the effect that, in view of the commercial anarchy and confusion that would result from the diverse exertions of power by the several states of the union, it cannot be supposed that the constitution or congress have intended to limit the freedom of commercial intercourse among the people of the several states. The fact, if it be a fact, that the statute in question was not intended as a regulation of commerce, does not, we repeat, affect the case. There may be no purpose, it has been held, upon the part of a legislature, to violate the constitution, and yet a statute enacted under the forms of law, may by its necessary operation, injuriously affect rights secured by the constitution, in which case the statute, to that extent, must be declared void. Brimmer w. Rebman, 138 U. S. 78. This is merely stating in different form the proposition affirmed in the Henderson Case, namely, that, in whatever language a statute may be framed, its constitutional validity must be determined by its natural and reasonable effect,-a proposition that would seem to be incontrovertible. In the last mentioned case, a statute of New York which required the master or owner of every vessel landing passengers at the port of New York from a foreign country to give a bond in a prescribed penalty for each passenger so landed, as an indemnity against any expense to be incurred by the state or city for the support of such
passengers, was held void, as being a regulation of commerce, although it was sought to be sustained as a police regulation to protect the state against the influx of paupers; the practical result of the statute being to impose a burden upon all passengers so landed from a foreign country. So, in the case of Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U. S. 275, a similar statute of California, intended to prevent the introduction of lewd women into that state, was held void, as going beyond the necessity of the case, and amounting, in its practical operation, to a regulation of foreign commerce. Upon the same principle, statutes prohibiting the introduction of intoxicating liquors into the state enacting them have been held to be infringements of the commerce clause of the constitution, and not valid police regulations to guard against the evils of intemperance. And numerous illustrations of the same principles
ance of Sa5.
are to be found in the adjudged cases, all of which show that when, in the attempted exercise of the police power, no mat. ter upon what grounds it is sought to be exercised, the action of a state comes in conflict with a power vested exclusively by constitution in congress, such attempt is a nullity; and the present case comes within this principle.
The power of the state to enforce observance of the Sabbath as a police regulation stands upon no higher footing than
her power to guard against the evils of vice or inPower to en- temperance, or of imported pauperism, or infectious force observ. diseases.
In either case the nature and extent of the power is exactly the same, and there is no prin
ciple for holding otherwise. Our attention has been called, in this connection, to State 7. Baltimore & O. R. Co., 24 W. Va. 783, 18 Am. & Eng. R. Cas. 466, wherein
Sunday law,” so called, similar to the one we are considering, was upheld, under circumstances resembling those of the present case. The court in that case admitted that the transportation between the states, is commerce between the states, and that such commerce is necessarily under the exclusive control of congress; but it denied that non-action by congress is equivalent to a declaration that such commerce shall be free and untrammeled, and upon that ground sustained the statute in toto. As to the last proposition, we have already shown by the cases referred to-some of them decided since that case was decided that the rule is otherwise, and, after a careful examination of the case, we find nothing in it to raise a doubt that the rule has been rightly settled. The judgment must therefore be reversed, and the defendant discharged from further prosecution under this indictment, which ought to have been quashed.
LACY, J., (dissenting:)—This is a writ of error to a judgment of the circuit court of Pulaski county rendered at the March
term, 1891, when the circuit court affirmed the
judgment of the county court, rendered at the February term, 1891, of said county court, where the plaintiff in error was convicted for a violation of the Sunday laws of this commonwealth, and adjudged to pay a fine of $50. It is admitted that the said plaintiff in error openly violated the law of the state, upon the ground that it is in violation of the constitution of the United States, because it is an interference by the state with the subject of commerce among the states; that the constitution of the United States provides (article 1, $8), that the congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the states, and with the Indian tribes. Our Code provides that “is a person, on a
Sabbath day, be found laboring at any trade or calling, or employ his apprentices or servants in labor or other business, except in household or other work of necessity or charity, he shall forfeit two dollars for each offence. Every day any servant or apprentice is so employed shall constitute a distinct oflense.” Code Va. S 3799. This plaintiff in error is a domestic corporation, domiciled within the state of Virginia, holding its chartered rights under the grant of the state, whose charter, by its express terms, provides that it may be altered, modified, or repealed by any future legislature as may think proper. Id. : 1240. The absolute prohibition against laboring at its calling being, in the legislative mind, inexpedient in its application to this or other domestic corporations, the legislature, in 1884, enacted a statute which modified the general law, and excepted such trains as were loaded with passengers and perishable freight, and which suffer injury by delay, and provided as follows: “No railroad company, receiver, or trustee controlling or operating a railroad shall, by any agent or emplove, load, unload, run, or transport upon such road on a Sunday any car, train of cars, or locomotive, nor permit the same to be done by any such
agent or employe, except when such cars, trains, or lócomotives are used exclusively for the use of wrecked trains, or trains so disabled as to obstruct the main track of the railroad, or for the transportation of the United States mail, or for the transportation of passengers and their baggage, or for the transportation of live stock, or for the transportation of articles of such perishable nature as would be necessarily impaired in value by one day's delay in their passage: provided, however, that, it it should be necessary to transport live stock or perishable articles on a Sunday to an extent not sufficient to make a whole train load, such train load may be made up with cars loaded with ordinary freight." Section 3803 provides that the word "Sunday,' in the preceding section, shall be construed to embrace only that portion of the day between sunrise and sunset; and trains in transitu having started prior to twelve o'clock on Saturday night may, in order to reach the terminus or shops of the railroad, run until nine o'clock the following Sunday morning, but not later.” Section 3802 provides the penalty, which is immaterial in this case; the fine assessed not being in-violation thereof. These sections constitute our Sunday laws, not very stringent, it must be admitted, as far as railroads are concerned ; its extreme lib. erality in the privileges to labor on the Sabbath accorded therein suggesting the thought that, when the law was drawn, is I have no information. However that may be, the law is