MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.
The plaintiff in error, Hennington, superintendent of transportation, and having charge of the freight business of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company, was indicted in the Superior Court of Dade County, Georgia, for the offence of having, on the 15th day of March, 1891 — that being the Sabbath day — unlawfully run a freight train on the Alabama Great Southern Railroad in that county.
The statute under which the prosecution was instituted is as follows: "Code of Georgia, 1882, Sec. 4578. If any freight train shall be run on any railroad in this State on the Sabbath day (known as Sunday), the superintendent of transportation of such railroad company, or the officer having charge of the business of that department of the railroad, shall be liable for indictment for a misdemeanor in each county through which such train shall pass, and, on conviction, shall be for each offence punished as prescribed in section 4310 of this code. On such trial it shall not be necessary to allege or prove the names of any of the employés engaged on such train, but the simple fact of the train being run. The defendant may justify himself by proof that such employés acted in direct violation of the orders and rules of the defendant: Provided, always, That whenever any train on any railroad in this State, having in such train one or more cars loaded with live stock, which train shall be delayed beyond schedule time, shall not be required to lay over on the line of road or route during Sunday, but may run on to the point where, by due course of shipment or consignment, the next stock pen on the route may be, where said animals may be fed and watered, according to the facilities usually afforded for such transportation. And it shall be lawful for all freight trains on the different
Section 4310, referred to in the section just quoted, is as follows:
"Accessories after the fact, except where it is otherwise ordered in this code, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars, imprisonment not to exceed six months, to work in the chain-gang on the public works, or on such other works as the county authorities may employ the chain-gang, not to exceed twelve months, and any one or more of these punishments may be ordered in the discretion of the judge: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall authorize the giving the control of convicts to private persons, or their employment by the county authorities in such mechanical pursuits as will bring the products of their labor into competition with the products of free labor."
The defendant pleaded not guilty. He also pleaded specially certain facts which, he averred, showed that the statute of Georgia, as applied to this case, was in conflict with the provision of the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to regulate commerce among the States.
At the trial the defendant admitted that he was superintendent of transportation of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad, the property of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company, a corporation of Alabama; that the line of that railroad began at the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, extended nine miles through that State, when it entered the county of Dade, Georgia, and ran through that county and over the line of road constructed and operated originally by the Wills Valley Railroad Company, into Alabama; thence through Alabama two hundred and forty-five miles, and into Mississippi, to the city of Meridian, where it connected with other roads; that said company was acting as a common carrier of passengers and freight along its line, using engines and cars propelled by steam; that on the day mentioned in the indictment
The defendant contended that the statute, if applied to these facts, was repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. This contention was overruled and the jury were instructed that, under the facts admitted, the defendant was guilty. The jury accordingly found him guilty as charged in the indictment.
The case was taken to the Supreme Court of Georgia, and it was assigned for errror that the trial court refused to adjudge section 4578 of the Code of Georgia, when applied to the admitted facts, to be repugnant to the commerce clause of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of Georgia held the statute, under which the prosecution was instituted, to be a regulation of internal police and not a regulation of commerce; that it was not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States even as to freight trains passing through the State from and to adjacent States, and laden exclusively with freight received on board before the trains entered Georgia and consigned to points beyond its limits.
As the judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia denied to the defendant a right or immunity specially set up and claimed by him under the Constitution of the United States, no question is or can be made as to the jurisdiction of this court to review that judgment.
If the statute in question forbidding the running in Georgia of railroad freight trains, on the Sabbath day, had been expressly limited to trains laden with domestic freight, it could not be regarded otherwise than as an ordinary police regulation established by the State under its general power to protect the health and morals, and to promote the welfare, of its people.
In what light is the statute of Georgia to be regarded? The well settled rule is, that if a statute purporting to have
In our opinion there is nothing in the legislation in question which suggests that it was enacted with the purpose to regulate interstate commerce, or with any other purpose than to prescribe a rule of civil duty for all who, on the Sabbath day, are within the territorial jurisdiction of the State. It is none the less a civil regulation because the day on which the running of freight trains is prohibited is kept by many under a sense of religious duty. The legislature having, as will not be disputed, power to enact laws to promote the order and to secure the comfort, happiness and health of the people, it was within its discretion to fix the day when all labor, within the limits of the State, works of necessity and charity excepted, should cease. It is not for the judiciary to say that the wrong day was fixed, much less that the legislature erred when it assumed that the best interests of all required that one day in seven should be kept for the purposes of rest from ordinary labor. The fundamental law of the State committed these matters to the determination of the legislature. If the law making power errs in such matters, its responsibility is to the electors, and not to the judicial branch of the government. The whole theory of our government, Federal and state, is hostile to the idea that questions of legislative authority may depend upon expediency, or upon opinions of judges as to the wisdom or want of wisdom in the enactment of laws under powers clearly conferred upon the legislature. The legislature of Georgia no doubt acted upon the view that the keeping of one day in seven for rest and relaxation was "of admirable service to a State considered merely as a civil institution." 4 Bl. Com. * 63. The same view was expressed by Mr. Justice Field in Ex parte Newman, 9 California, 502, 519, 528, when, referring to a statute of California relating to
So, in Bloom v. Richards, 2 Ohio St. 387, 391, Judge Thurman, delivering the unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio, said: "We are, then, to regard the statute under consideration as a mere municipal or police regulation, whose validity is neither strengthened nor weakened by the fact that the day of rest it enjoins is the Sabbath day. Wisdom requires that men should refrain from labor at least one day in seven, and the advantages of having the day of rest fixed, and so fixed as to happen at regularly recurring intervals, are too obvious to be overlooked. It was within the constitutional competency of the general assembly to require the cessation of labor, and to name the day of rest."
To the same general effect are many cases: Specht v. Commonwealth, 8 Penn. St. 312, 322; Commonwealth v. Has, 122 Mass. 40, 42; Frolickstein v. Mobile, 40 Alabama, 725; Ex parte Andrews, 18 California, 678, in which the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Field in Ex parte Newman, 9 California, 502, was approved; State v. Railroad, 24 W.Va. 783; Scales v. State, 47 Arkansas, 476, 482; State v. Ambs, 20 Missouri, 214; Mayor &c. v. Linck, 12 Lea, 499, 515.
The same principles were announced by the Supreme Court of Georgia in the present case. As the contention is that that court erred in not adjudging the statute in question to be unconstitutional, it is appropriate that the grounds upon which it proceeded should fully appear in this opinion. That court, speaking by Chief Justice Bleckley, said: "There can be no
That court further said: "With respect to the selection of the particular day in each week which has been set apart by our statute as the rest day of the people, religious views and feelings may have had a controlling influence. We doubt not that they did have; and it is probable that the same views and feelings had a very powerful influence in dictating the policy of setting apart any day whatever as a day of enforced rest. But neither of these considerations is destructive of the police nature and character of the statute. If good and sufficient police reasons underlie it, and substantial police purposes are involved in its provisions, these reasons and purposes constitute its civil and legal justification, whether they were or not the direct and immediate motives which induced its passage, and have for so long a
Assuming, then, that both upon principle and authority the statute of Georgia is, in every substantial sense, a police regulation established under the general authority possessed by the legislature to provide, by laws, for the well-being of the people, we proceed to consider whether it is in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.
The defendant contends that the running on the Sabbath day of railroad cars, laden with interstate freight, is committed exclusively to the control and supervision of the National Government; and that, although Congress has not taken any affirmative action upon the subject, state legislation interrupting,
The argument in behalf of the defendants rests upon the erroneous assumption that the statute of Georgia is such a regulation of interstate commerce as is forbidden by the Constitution, without reference to affirmative action by Congress, and not merely a statute enacted by the State under its police power, and which, although in some degree affecting interstate commerce, does not go beyond the necessities of the case, and, therefore, is valid, at least until Congress interferes.
The distinction here suggested is not new in our jurisprudence. It has been often recognized and enforced by this court. In Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 203, 210, this court recognized the possession by each State of a general power of legislation, that "embraces everything within the territory of a State, not surrendered to the General Government; all which can be most advantageously exercised by the States themselves." Inspection laws, although having, as the court said in that case, "a remote and considerable influence on
In Willson v. Black Bird Creek Marsh Company, 2 Pet. 245, 251, 252, it appeared that that company claimed the right, under a statute of Delaware, to place a dam across a navigable creek, up which the tide flowed for some distance, and thereby abridge the rights of those accustomed to use the stream. This court, after observing that the construction of the dam would enhance the value of the adjoining land and probably improve the health of the inhabitants, and that such an abridgment of private rights, unless it came in conflict with the Constitution or a law of the United States, was an affair between the government of Delaware and its citizens, of which this court could not take cognizance, said: "The counsel for plaintiffs in error insist that it comes in conflict with the power of the United States `to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States.' If Congress had passed any act which bore upon the case; any act in execution of the power to regulate commerce, the object of which was to control state legislation over those small navigable creeks into which the tide flows, and which abound throughout the lower country of the Middle and Southern States; we should feel not much difficulty in saying that a state law coming in conflict with such act would be void. But Congress has passed no such act. The repugnancy of the law of Delaware to the Constitution is placed entirely on its repugnancy to the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States; a power which has not been so exercised as to affect the question. We do not think that the act empowering the Black Bird Creek Marsh Company to place a dam across the creek can, under all the circumstances of the case, be considered as repugnant to the power to regulate commerce in its dormant state, or as being in conflict with any law passed on the subject." Notwithstanding that case has been sometimes criticized, its authority has never been questioned in this court. On the contrary, it was declared in Pound v. Turck, 95 U.S. 459, 463, that it had never been overruled, but had always been sustained.
In Cooley v. Board of Wardens, etc., 12 How. 299, 320, it was adjudged that the mere grant to Congress of the power to regulate commerce did not deprive the States of power to regulate pilots on the public navigable waters of the United States.
In Owners of Brig James Gray v. Owners of Ship John Fraser, 21 How. 184, 187, the court held to be valid two ordinances of the city of Charleston, one providing that no vessel should be in the harbor of that city for more than twenty-four hours, and inflicting certain penalties for every disobedience of the ordinance; the other requiring all vessels anchored in the harbor to keep a light burning on board from
In Railroad Company v. Fuller, 17 Wall. 560, 567, 570, the question was as to the validity of a statute of Iowa requiring that each railroad company should, in the month of September, annually, fix its rates for the transportation of passengers and of freights of different kinds; that it should put up a printed copy of such rates at all its stations and depots, and cause a copy to remain posted during the year; and that a failure to fulfil these requirements, or the charging of a higher rate than was posted, should subject the offending company to the payment of the penalty prescribed. The court said: "In all other respects there is no interference. No other constraint is imposed. Except in these particulars the company may exercise all its faculties as it shall deem proper. No discrimination is made between local and interstate freights, and no attempt is made to control the rates that may be charged. It is only required that the rates shall be fixed, made public and honestly adhered to. In this there is nothing unreasonable or onerous. The public welfare is promoted without wrong or injury to the company. The statute was
In Railroad Co. v. Husen, 95 U.S. 465, 470-473, the court, while holding to be invalid under the Constitution of the United States a statute of Missouri, which met at the borders of the State a large and common subject of commerce, and prohibited its crossing the line during two thirds of each year, except subject to onerous conditions, which obstructed interstate commerce and worked a discrimination between the property of citizens of one State and that of citizens of other States, said 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;" that the power extended "to making regulations of domestic order, morals, health and safety," but could not be exercised over a subject confided exclusively in Congress, nor invade the domain of the National Government, nor by any law of a police nature interfere with transportation into or through the State, "beyond what is absolutely necessary for its self protection." The court, in that case, concluded with these words: "The police power of a State cannot obstruct foreign commerce or interstate commerce beyond the necessity for its exercise; and under color of it objects not within its scope cannot be secured at the expense of the protection afforded by the Constitution. And as its range sometimes comes very near to the field committed by the Constitution to Congress, it is the duty of the courts to guard vigilantly against any needless intrusion."
Upon the subject of legislation enacted under the police power of a State, and which, although affecting more or less commerce among the States, was adjudged to be valid, until displaced by some act of Congress, the case of Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, 474, 479, 482, is instructive. A statute of Alabama made it unlawful for an engineer on a railroad train in that State to operate an engine upon the main line of the road used for the transportation of passengers or freight, without first undergoing an examination and obtaining a license from a State Board of Examiners. The point was made that the statute, in its application to engineers on interstate trains, was a regulation of commerce among the States, and repugnant to the Constitution. This court referred to and reaffirmed the principle announced in Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99, 102, where it was said: "In conferring upon Congress the regulation of commerce, it was never intended to cut the States off from legislating on all subjects relating to the health, life and safety of their citizens, though the legislation might indirectly affect the commerce of the country. Legislation, in a variety of ways, may affect commerce and persons engaged in it without constituting a regulation of it within the meaning of the Constitution." Referring to the fact that Congress had prescribed the qualifications for pilots and engineers of steam vessels engaged in the coasting trade and navigating the inland waters of the United States, while engaged in commerce among the States, the court, in Smith v. Alabama, said that the power of Congress "might, with equal authority, be exercised in prescribing the qualifications for locomotive engineers employed by railroad companies engaged in the transportation of passengers and goods among the States, and in that case would supersede any conflicting provisions on the same subject made by local authority. But the provisions on the subject contained in the statute of Alabama under consideration are not regulations of interstate commerce. It is a misnomer to call them such. Considered in themselves they
So in Nashville etc. Railway v. Alabama, 128 U.S. 96, 99, 101, which involved the validity of a state enactment which, for the protection of the travelling public, declared any one disqualified from serving on railroad lines within the State who had color blindness and defective vision, and which statute was equally applicable to domestic and interstate railroad trains, the court said: "It is conceded that the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce is plenary; that, as incident to it, Congress may legislate as to the qualifications, duties and liabilities of employes and others on railway trains engaged in that commerce; and that such legislation will
These authorities make it clear that the legislative enactments of the States, passed under their admitted police powers, and having a real relation to the domestic peace, order, health and safety of their people, but which, by their necessary operation, affect to some extent, or for a limited time, the conduct of commerce among the States, are yet not invalid by force alone of the grant of power to Congress to regulate such commerce; and, if not obnoxious to some other constitutional provision or destructive of some right secured by the fundamental law, are to be respected in the courts of the Union until they are superseded and displaced by some act of Congress passed in execution of the power granted to it by the Constitution. Local laws of the character mentioned have their source in the powers which the States reserved and never surrendered to Congress, of providing for the public health, the public morals and the public safety, and are not, within the meaning of the Constitution, and considered in their own nature, regulations of interstate commerce simply because, for a limited time or to a limited extent, they cover
We are of opinion that such a law, although in a limited degree affecting interstate commerce, is not for that reason a needless intrusion upon the domain of Federal jurisdiction, nor strictly a regulation of interstate commerce, but, considered in its own nature, is an ordinary police regulation designed to secure the well-being and to promote the general welfare of the people within the State by which it was established, and, therefore, not invalid by force alone of the Constitution of the United States.
The judgment is
The CHIEF JUSTICE, with whom concurred MR. JUSTICE WHITE, dissenting:
Intercourse and trade between the States by means of railroads passing through several States, is a matter national in its character and admitting of uniform regulation. The power of Congress to regulate it is exclusive and under the Constitution it is free and untrammelled except as Congress otherwise provides. This statute in requiring the suspension of interstate commerce for one day in the week amounts to a regulation of that commerce, and is invalid because the power of Congress in that regard is exclusive. But it is said that the act is not a regulation of commerce but a mere regulation of police, and that the so called police power of a State is plenary. The result, however, is the same. When a power of a State and
MR. JUSTICE BREWER did not hear the argument in this case, and took no part in its decision.