A statute of the State of Florida undertakes to make it unlawful for anyone to sell, offer for sale, ship, or deliver for shipment, any citrus fruits which are immature or otherwise unfit for consumption.
Plaintiff in error, S.J. Sligh, was charged by information containing three counts in the Criminal Court of Record in Orange County, Florida, with violation of this statute. One of the counts charged that Sligh delivered to an agent of the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company, a common carrier, for shipment to Winecoff & Adams, Birmingham, Alabama, one car of oranges, which were citrus fruits, then and there immature and unfit for consumption. Upon petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court of Florida for Orange County, the court refused to order the release of Sligh, and remanded him to the custody of the Sheriff. Upon writ of error to the Supreme Court of Florida, that judgment was affirmed (65 Florida, 123), and the case is brought here.
The single question is: Was it within the authority of the State of Florida to make it a criminal offense to deliver for shipment in interstate commerce citrus fruits, — oranges in this case, — then and there immature and unfit for consumption?
It will be observed that the oranges must not only be immature, but they must be in such condition as renders
That Congress has the exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce is beyond question, and when that authority is exerted by the State, even in the just exercise of the police power, it may not interfere with the supreme authority of Congress over the subject; while this is true, this court from the beginning has recognized that there may be legitimate action by the State in the matter of local regulation, which the State may take until Congress exercises its authority upon the subject. This subject has been so frequently dealt with in decisions of this court that an extended review of the authorities is unnecessary. See the Minnesota Rate Cases, 230 U.S. 352.
While this proposition seems to be conceded, and the competency of the State to provide local measures in the interest of the safety and welfare of the people is not doubted, although such regulations incidentally and indirectly involve interstate commerce, the contention is that this statute is not a legitimate exercise of the police power, as it has the effect to protect the health of people in other States who may receive the fruits from Florida in a condition unfit for consumption; and however commendable it may be to protect the health of such foreign peoples, such purpose is not within the police power of the State.
The limitations upon the police power are hard to define,
The power of the State to prescribe regulations which shall prevent the production within its borders of impure foods, unfit for use, and such articles as would spread disease and pestilence, is well established. Such articles,
Nor does it make any difference that such regulations incidentally affect interstate commerce, when the object of the regulation is not to that end, but is a legitimate attempt to protect the people of the State. In Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519, a conviction was sustained of one who was charged with having in his possession game birds, killed within the State, with the intention of procuring transportation of the same beyond state limits. This law was attacked upon the ground that it was a direct attempt to regulate commerce among the States. After discussing the peculiar nature of such property, and the power of the State over it, this court said (p. 534): "Aside from the authority of the State, derived from the common ownership of game and the trust for the benefit of its people which the State exercises in relation thereto, there is another view of the power of the State in regard to the property in game, which is equally conclusive. The right to preserve game flows from the undoubted existence in the State of a police power to that end, which may be none the less efficiently called into play, because by doing so interstate commerce may be remotely and indirectly affected. Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1; Hall v. De Cuir, 95 U.S. 485; Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99, 103; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1." In New York, ex rel. Dilz
So it may be taken as established that the mere fact that interstate commerce is indirectly affected will not prevent the State from exercising its police power, at least until Congress, in the exercise of its supreme authority, regulates the subject. Furthermore, this regulation cannot be declared invalid if within the range of the police power, unless it can be said that it has no reasonable relation to a legitimate purpose to be accomplished in its enactment; and whether such regulation is necessary in the public interest is primarily within the determination of the legislature, assuming the subject to be a proper matter of state regulation.
We may take judicial notice of the fact that the raising of citrus fruits is one of the great industries of the State of Florida. It was competent for the legislature to find that it was essential for the success of that industry that its reputation be preserved in other States wherein such fruits find their most extensive market. The shipment of fruits, so immature as to be unfit for consumption, and consequently injurious to the health of the purchaser, would not be otherwise than a serious injury to the local trade, and would certainly affect the successful conduct of such business within the State. The protection of the State's reputation in foreign markets, with the consequent beneficial effect upon a great home industry, may have been within the legislative intent, and it certainly could not be
As to the suggestion that the shipment of such fruit may be legitimately made for commercial purposes, for the purpose of making wine, citric acid, and possibly other articles, it is sufficient to say that this case does not present any such state of facts, and of course the constitutional objection must be considered in view of the case made before the court, which was a delivery for shipment of oranges so immature as to be unfit for consumption. Whether such a case, as supposed, of shipment for commercial purposes, would be within the statute, would be primarily for the state court to determine, and it is not for us to say, as no such case is here presented.
It is pointed out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida, and we repeat here, that no act of Congress has been called to our attention undertaking to regulate shipments of this character, which would be contravened by the act in question. As the Florida court says, the sixth subdivision of the Food and Drugs Act, if citrus fruits should be held to be within the prohibitions against vegetable substances, includes only such as are in whole or in part filthy, decomposed or putrid. Green or immature fruit, equally deleterious to health, does not seem to be within the Federal act. Therefore until Congress does legislate upon the subject, the State is free to enter the field. Savage v. Jones, 225 U.S. 501.
In the Vermont Case, referred to by counsel for plaintiff in error, State of Vermont v. Peet, 80 Vermont, 449, the act made it unlawful to ship without the State veal less than four weeks old when killed, and it was held to run counter to the Federal act and regulation upon the same subject.
We find no error in the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida, and it is