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McREYNOLDS, J., dissenting.

291 U.S.

property-wholesome milk—in the ordinary course of business at a price satisfactory to himself and the customer. We are not immediately concerned with any other provision of the act or later orders. Prices at which the producer may sell were not prescribed-he may accept any price-nor was production in any way limited. “To stimulate the production of a vital food product” was not the purpose of the statute. There was an oversupply of an excellent article. The affirmation is " that milk has been selling too cheaply ... and has thus created a temporary emergency; this emergency is remedied by making the sale of milk at a low price a crime."

The opinion below points out that the statute expires March 31, 1934, “and is avowedly a mere temporary measure to meet an existing emergency”; but the basis of the decision is not explicit. There was no definite finding of an emergency by the court upon consideration of established facts and no pronouncement that conditions were accurately reported by a legislative committee. Was the legislation upheld because only temporary and for an emergency; or was it sustained upon the view that the milk business bears a peculiar relation to the public, is affected with a public interest, and, therefore, sales prices may be prescribed irrespective of exceptional circumstances? We are left in uncertainty. The two notions

. are distinct if not conflicting. Widely different results may follow adherence to one or the other.

The theory that legislative action which ordinarily would be ineffective because of conflict with the Constitution may become potent if intended to meet peculiar conditions and properly limited, was lucidly discussed and its weakness disclosed by the dissenting opinion in Home


McREYNOLDS, J., dissenting.

Building & Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398. Sixty years ago, in Milligan's case, this Court declared it inimical to Constitutional government and did "write the vision and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it."

Milligan, charged with offenses against the United States committed during 1863 and 1864, was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged, by a military commission proceeding under an Act of Congress passed in 1862. The crisis then existing was urged in justification of its action. But this Court held the right of trial by jury did not yield to emergency; and directed his release. “Those great and good men [who drafted the Constitution] foresaw that troublous times would arise, when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril, unless established by irrepealable law. ... The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.” Ex parte Milligan (1866), 4 Wall. 2, 120.

The XIV Amendment wholly disempowered the several States to "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The assurance of each of these things is the same. If now liberty or property may be struck down because of difficult circumstances, we must expect that hereafter every right must yield to the voice of an impatient majority when stirred by distressful


McREYNOLDS, J., dissenting.

291 U.S.


exigency. Amid the turmoil of civil war Milligan was sentenced: happily this Court intervened. Constitutional guaranties are not to be “thrust to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” They were intended to be immutable so long as within our charter. Rights shielded yesterday should remain indefeasible today and tomorrow. Certain fundamentals have been set beyond experimentation; the Constitution has released them from control by the State. Again and again this Court has so declared.

Adams v. Tanner, 244 U.S. 590, condemned a Washington initiative measure which undertook to destroy the business of private employment agencies because it unduly restricted individual liberty. We there said—“The fundamental guaranties of the Constitution cannot be freely submerged if and whenever some ostensible justification is advanced and the police power invoked.”

Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60, held ineffective an ordinance which forbade negroes to reside in a city block where most of the houses were occupied by whites. “It is equally well established that the police power, broad as it is, cannot justify the passage of a law or ordinance which runs counter to the limitations of the Federal Constitution; that principle has been so frequently affirmed in this court that we need not stop to cite the cases." Southern Ry. Co. v. Virginia, 290 U.S. 190, 196—“The claim that the questioned statute was enacted under the police power of the State and, therefore, is not subject to the standards applicable to legislation under other powers, conflicts with the firmly established rule that every State power is limited by the inhibitions of the XIV Amendment."

Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525, 545.“ T'hat the right to contract about one's affairs is a part of the liberty of the individual protected by this clause


McREYNOLDS, J., dissenting.

[Fifth Amendment], is settled by the decisions of this Court and is no longer open to question.”

Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, held invalid a State enactment (1919), which forbade the teaching in schools of any language other than English. “While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

Schlesinger v. Wisconsin, 270 U.S. 230, 240. The State is forbidden to deny due process of law or the equal protection of the laws for any purpose whatsoever.”

Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, overthrew a Minnesota statute designed to protect the public against obvious evils incident to the business of regularly publishing malicious, scandalous and defamatory matters, because of conflict with the XIV Amendment.

In the following, among many other cases, much consideration has been given to this subject. United States v. Cohen Grocery Co., 255 U.S. 81, 88; Wolff Co. v. Industrial Court, 262 U.S. 522 and 267 U.S. 552; Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510; Tyson & Bro. v. Banton, 273 U.S. 418; Fairmont Creamery Co. v. Minnesota, 274 U.S. 1; Ribnik v. McBride, 277 U.S. 350; Williams v. Standard Oil Co., 278 U.S. 235; Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378. All stand in opposition to the views apparently approved below.

McREYNOLDS, J., dissenting.

291 U.S.

If validity of the enactment depends upon emergency, then to sustain this conviction we must be able to affirm that an adequate one has been shown by competent evidence of essential facts. The asserted right is federal. Such rights may demand and often have received affirmation and protection here. They do not vanish simply because the power of the State is arrayed against them. Nor are they enjoyed in subjection to mere legislative findings.

If she relied upon the existence of emergency, the burden was upon the State to establish it by competent evidence. None was presented at the trial. If necessary for appellant to show absence of the asserted conditions, the little grocer was helpless from the beginning—the practical difficulties were too great for the average man.

What circumstances give force to an emergency statute? In how much of the State must they obtain? Everywhere, or will a single county suffice? How many farmers must have been impoverished or threatened violence to create a crisis of sufficient gravity? If three days after this act became effective another“ very grievous murrain " had descended and half of the cattle had died, would the emergency then have ended, also the prescribed rates? If prices for agricultural products become high can consumers claim a crisis exists and demand that the Legislature fix less ones? Or are producers alone to be considered, consumers neglected? To these questions we have no answers. When emergency gives potency, its subsidence must disempower; but no test for its presence or absence has been offered. How is an accused to know when some new rule of conduct arrived, when it will disappear?

It is argued that the report of the Legislative Committee, dated April 10th, 1933, disclosed the essential facts. May one be convicted of crime upon such findings? Are

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