MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution, which repealed the Eighteenth, provides in its second section that "The transportation or importation into any
The appellee (Idlewild) is engaged in the business of selling bottled wines and liquors to departing international airline travelers at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Its place of business is leased from the Port of New York Authority for use solely as "an office in connection with the sale . . . of in-bond wines and liquors." Idlewild accepts orders only from travelers whose tickets and boarding cards indicate their imminent departure. A customer gets nothing but a receipt at the time he gives his order and makes payment. The liquor which he orders is transferred directly to the departing aircraft on documents approved by United States Customs, and is not delivered to the customer until he arrives at his foreign destination.
The beverages sold by Idlewild are purchased by it from bonded wholesalers located outside New York State who deal in tax-free liquors for export. Merchandise ordered by Idlewild is withdrawn from bonded warehouses on approved Customs documents, copies of which are mailed by the wholesalers both to Idlewild and to the United States Customs Office at the airport. A third sealed copy of the document is given to the bonded trucker who delivers it to the Customs Office at the airport after he has transported the shipment to Idlewild's place of business. The contents of each shipment are recorded by Idlewild, as are withdrawals from inventory
Idlewild commenced doing business in the spring of 1960. A few weeks later, the New York State Liquor Authority, whose members are the appellants in this case, informed Idlewild, upon the advice of the Attorney General of New York, that its business was illegal under the provisions of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, because the business was unlicensed and unlicensable under that law.
After lengthy procedural delays,
On the merits the court concluded, after reviewing the relevant cases, that the Commerce Clause rendered constitutionally impermissible New York's attempt wholly to terminate Idlewild's business operations. The court conceded that New York has broad power under the Twenty-first Amendment to supervise and regulate the transportation of liquor through its territory for the purpose of guarding against a diversion of such liquor into domestic channels, but pointed out that "the Liquor Authority has neither alleged nor proved the diversion of so much as one bottle of plaintiff's merchandise to users within the state of New York." 212 F. Supp., at 386. We noted probable jurisdiction, 375 U.S. 809, and for the reasons which follow, we affirm the judgment of the District Court.
We hold first that the District Court did not err in declining to defer to the state courts before deciding this controversy on its merits. The doctrine of abstention is equitable in its origins, Railroad Comm'n v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496, 500-501, and this Court has held that, even
Turning, then, to the merits of this controversy, the basic issue we face is whether the Twenty-first Amendment so far obliterates the Commerce Clause as to empower New York to prohibit absolutely the passage of liquor through its territory, under the supervision of the United States Bureau of Customs acting under federal law,
This view of the scope of the Twenty-first Amendment with respect to a State's power to restrict, regulate, or prevent the traffic and distribution of intoxicants within its borders has remained unquestioned. See California v. Washington, 358 U.S. 64. Thus, in Ziffrin, Inc., v. Reeves, 308 U.S. 132, there was involved a Kentucky statute, "a long, comprehensive measure (123 sections)
To draw a conclusion from this line of decisions that the Twenty-first Amendment has somehow operated to
Both the. Twenty-first Amendment and the Commerce Clause are parts of the same Constitution. Like other provisions of the Constitution, each must be considered in the light of the other, and in the context of the issues and interests at stake in any concrete case.
This principle is reflected in the Court's decision in Collins v. Yosemite Park Co., 304 U.S. 518. There it was held that the Twenty-first Amendment did not give California power to prevent the shipment into and through her territory of liquor destined for distribution and consumption in a national park. The Court said that this traffic did not involve "transportation into California `for delivery or use therein' " within the meaning of the Amendment. "The delivery and use is in the Park, and under a distinct sovereignty." Id., at 538. This ruling was later characterized by the Court as holding
We may assume that if in Collins California had sought to regulate or control the transportation of the liquor there involved from the time of its entry into the State until its delivery at the national park, in the interest of preventing unlawful diversion into her territory, California would have been constitutionally permitted to do so.
A like accommodation of the Twenty-first Amendment with the Commerce Clause leads to a like conclusion in the present case. Here, ultimate delivery and use is not in New York, but in a foreign country. The State has not sought to regulate or control the passage of intoxicants through her territory in the interest of preventing their unlawful diversion into the internal commerce of the State. As the District Court emphasized, this case does not involve "measures aimed at preventing unlawful
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, with whom MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG joins, dissenting.
The appellee, Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corporation, buys wines and intoxicating liquors from bonded wholesale warehouses, brings them into the State of New York, and sells them at retail in the John F. Kennedy Airport. Idlewild does not have and cannot obtain a New York license; therefore its business is in violation of New York law. Idlewild keeps a stock of liquor in New York under Customs inspection, and customers come into Idlewild's shop, choose the kind of liquor they want, and pay for it. These retail sales are just like sales made by New York's licensed and regulated liquor dealers, with a single difference: other New York retailers normally make delivery across the counter while Idlewild arranges with its customers to put their purchases, under United States Customs supervision, aboard planes so that the customers take physical possession of the liquor, not in New York, but at destinations abroad. The airport where the sales take place is not a federal enclave where even as to liquor federal law can constitutionally control,
Even though the language of this Amendment clearly leaves the States free to control the importation of and traffic in liquors within their boundaries, it was argued in State Board v. Young's Market Co., 299 U.S. 59 (1936), that it would be a violation of the Commerce Clause and of the Equal Protection Clause for a State to require a fee of persons importing beer from outside the State. Pointing out that such a discrimination would have violated the Commerce Clause before adoption of the Twenty-first Amendment, this Court held that since that Amendment a State was not required to "let imported liquors compete with the domestic on equal terms. To say that, would involve not a construction of the Amendment, but a rewriting of it." Id., at 62. The Court went on to hold that the claim that the State's discriminatory "statutory provisions and the regulations are void under
In Young's Market, the Court found it so clear that the "broad language" of the Twenty-first Amendment gave States exclusive power to regulate or tax liquor transactions in those States that it rather impatiently refused to consider the Amendment's history urged in limitation of that language. Young's Market, supra, 299 U. S., at 63-64. I agree with Justice Brandeis that history should not be necessary to prove what is obvious. But now that the Amendment is interpreted in a way that takes away part of the power that I think was given to the States by the Amendment and confers it on Customs officials, it becomes appropriate to look to the history of the Amendment's adoption. As reported by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in S. J. Res. 211, 72d Cong., 2d Sess., the proposed amendment provided in Section 2, "The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited." 76 Cong. Rec. 4138 (1933). That language is in the present Amendment.
During the debate the Senators brought out quite clearly what plenary powers Section 2, as it now appears in the Twenty-first Amendment, meant to give the States.
The legislative history, of which these passages are typical, should be enough to prove that when the Senators agreed to Section 2 they thought they were returning "absolute control" of liquor traffic to the States, free of all restrictions which the Commerce Clause might before that time have imposed. Moreover, by rejecting Section 3, they thought they were seeing to it that the Federal Government could not interfere with or restrict the State's exercise of the power conferred by the Amendment. Therefore, that the liquor in this case is supervised by United States Customs officials for customs purposes is immaterial. The Amendment promises that each State shall decide what is best for itself in regulating liquor traffic within its boundaries, and the Amendment no more empowers Customs officials to make that decision for a State than it empowers Congress to make it. This view was forcefully expressed by Senator Wagner, who, when urging that Section 3 be eliminated from the proposed Amendment and the States be given complete control of liquor traffic, said: "let the people of each State deal with that subject, and they will do it more effectively
That the liquors involved in this case have, in Walsh's and Blaine's words, "passed the State line" and "enter[ed] the confines" of the State is beyond dispute. The debates from which I have quoted show that the Senators intended that, once the liquors should enter New York, they would be subject to the "absolute control" of that State. The Twenty-first Amendment promises New York no less.
Idlewild's liquors, once in the State, are sold at retail to airline passengers at Kennedy Airport. No one disputes that Idlewild thus competes with other New York liquor dealers for the trade of these consumers of liquor. To allow this business to go unregulated by New York is to interfere with the regulatory power which this Court, in State Board v. Young's Market Co., supra, said each State has under the Twenty-first Amendment. There, id., at 63, the Court said that a State is perfectly free to set up a state liquor monopoly or to confer a liquor monopoly upon some one dealer in the State. It is equally obvious that New York is free to allow only a limited number of dealers to engage in the liquor business. It might do this because it wanted to discourage consumption, or to make it easier to police the liquor traffic, or to accomplish some other objective the State thought worthwhile to protect against the evils which can flow from the traffic. In particular New York might want to see that sales are not diverted to Idlewild from other dealers licensed and regulated by the State. Yet today's interpretation of the Amendment renders New York impotent to prevent such diversions. Justification for this result is sought by saying that the Customs officials must be unhampered in their duties. But giving Customs officials the power to prevent evasion of customs duties does not immunize
The invalidation of New York's regulation of Idlewild, I think, makes inroads upon the powers given the States by the Twenty-first Amendment. Ironically, it was against just this kind of judicial encroachment that Senators were complaining when they agreed to S. J. Res. 211 and paved the way for the Amendment's adoption. Senator Borah of Idaho traced the history of state regulation of liquor traffic from Justice Taney's decision in the License Cases, 5 How. 504 (1847), which upheld state power over liquor, through Bowman v. Chicago & N. R. Co., 125 U.S. 465 (1888), which Senator Borah said "wiped out the Taney decision," to Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U.S. 100 (1890), which made the States "powerless to protect themselves against the importation of liquor into the States." 76 Cong. Rec. 4170-4171 (1933). Because of this judicial history, Senator Borah, wanting to guarantee that the States would not be rendered powerless over liquor traffic, expressed his uneasiness at leaving anything less than a Constitutional Amendment "to the protection of the Supreme Court of the United States." Ibid. Yet, instead of protecting the States' power to control liquor traffic, today's interpretation of the Twenty-first Amendment leaves New York powerless to regulate Idlewild's business and others like it and puts the power instead in the hands of United States Customs officials. I would not interpret the Amendment that way.
" `Sale' means any transfer, exchange or barter in any manner or by any means whatsoever for a consideration, and includes and means all sales made by any person, whether principal, proprietor, agent, servant or employee of any alcoholic beverage and/or a warehouse receipt pertaining thereto. `To sell' includes to solicit or receive an order for, to keep or expose for sale, and to keep with intent to sell and shall include the delivery of any alcoholic beverage in the state." New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, § 3, Subd. 28.
"No person shall manufacture for sale or sell at wholesale or retail any alcoholic beverage within the state without obtaining the appropriate license therefor required by this chapter." New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, § 100, Subd. 1.
"No premises shall be licensed to sell liquors and/or wines at retail for off premises consumption, unless said premises shall be located in a store, the entrance to which shall be from the street level and located on a public thoroughfare in premises which may be occupied, operated or conducted for business, trade or industry or on an arcade or sub-surface thoroughfare leading to a railroad terminal." New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, § 105, Subd. 2.