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§ 455. “Inspection Laws.”

DEFINITION.—The inspection laws of a State are those laws which a State may enact in the exercise of its police powers, providing for the official view, survey, and examination of personal property, the subjects of commerce, in order to determine whether they are in a fit condition for sale according to the commercial usages of the world. (Foster v. Port Wardens, 94 U.S. 246.) The examination extends to the quality, form, size, weight, and measurement of articles imported. An inspection, it is held, is something which can be accomplished by looking at, or weighing, or measuring the thing to be inspected, or by applying to it at once some crucial test. When testimony or evidence is to be taken and examined, it is not inspection in any sense


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whatever. (The People v. Compagnie Transatlantique, 107 U.S. 62.) In some cases chemical analysis may be demanded, and in these cases State requirements that the vendor shall furnish samples of his goods to the State chemist, and label the product with the correct statement of its chemical ingredients, are valid. (Patapsco Guano Co. v. Board of Agriculture, 171 U.S. 345.) The object of examination is to ascertain whether the articles examined are fit for commerce, and to protect the citizens and the market from fraud. (The People v. Edye, 11 Daley [U.S.] 132.) Inspection laws must not be of a discriminating character. (Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U.S. 78; Voight v. Wright, 141 U.S. 62.)

LIMITS OF INSPECTION LAWS.—The power to inspect is not applicable to vessels and other means of transportation. (Railroad Co. [Morgan L. and T.] v. Board of Health, 36 Louisiana Ann. 666.) Under the guise of inspection laws a State is not permitted to impose a heavy charge amounting to a tax or an obstruction of trade and commerce. The courts will scrutinize the purpose and the amount of such a tax, and will decide whether it is intended to violate the constitutional prohibition. (Goodwin v. Caraleigh Phosphate Works, 119 N. Carolina, 120.) The Federal Parliament may also at any time annul State inspection laws which are objectionable or suspected of being intended to obstruct the freedom of inter-state trade and commerce.

EXAMPLES OF INSPECTION LAWS.—A law of Maryland requiring tobacco to be brought to a State warehouse for inspection and branding, &c., and to pay charges for outage and storage, held to be valid as inspection laws. (Turner v. Maryland, 107 U.S. 38. Baker, Annot. Const. 104.)

Taxes in aid of the inspection laws of a State, under special circumstances, have been upheld as necessary to promote the interests of commerce and the security of navigation. They are so upheld as contemplating benefits to commerce and navigation, and as altogether distinct from imposts and excise duties, and duties on tonnage. (State Tonnage Tax Cases, 12 Wall. 204–219. Id.)

When the right of inspection exists and is properly exercised, it applies alike to imports and exports. (Neilson v. Garza, 2 Woods, 287. Id.)

Inspection laws, so far as they act upon articles of exportation, are generally executed on land, before the article is shipped; so far as they act on importation they are generally executed on articles which are landed. The tax or duty of inspection, then, is a tax paid for the performance of the services and while the article inspected is in the bosom of the country. This is an exception to the prohibition on the States to lay duties on imports or exports, and was made because the tax would otherwise have been within the prohibition. (Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419–438. Id.)

This clause has reference to the inspection of property, and cannot be made to apply to free human beings. The methods of determining whether such persons are criminals, paupers, lunatics, &c., are not to be determined by inspection laws alone. (The People v. Compagnie Gen. Transatlantique, 107 U.S. 59. Id.)

The statute of Minnesota held unconstitutional and void in so far as it requires, as a condition of sales in Minnesota of fresh meat for human food, that the animals from which such meat is taken shall have been inspected in that State before being slaughtered. The inspection thus provided for is of such character, or is burdened with such conditions, as will prevent the introduction into the State of sound meats, the product of animals slaughtered in other States. (Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U.S. 314. Id.)

Intoxicating liquids.

113. All fermented, distilled, or other intoxicating liquids456 passing into any State or remaining therein for use, consumption, sale, or storage, shall be subject to the laws of the State as if such liquids had been produced in the State.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—At the Adelaide session, Mr. Deakin moved, as an addition to the free-trade clause (sec. 92) the words “But nothing in this Constitution shall prevent any State from prohibiting the importation of any article or thing, the sale of which


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within the State has first been prohibited by the State.” The object was to enable the States to prevent the importation of articles—such as alcohol or opium—which it deemed hurtful. This was then postponed in order to proceed with the financial clauses. (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 875–7.) At a later stage, it having been suggested that the clause might affect the fiscal issue, and also that power ought to be given to regulate as well as to prohibit the sale, Mr. Deakin moved his amendment in this form:

“Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prevent any State from regulating the importation of opium or alcohol under conditions which are applicable as nearly as possible to the laws relating to opium and alcohol within the State.”

Mr. O'Connor opposed the amendment; partly because it was unnecessary, American decisions showing that retail sale within the State might be prohibited; and partly because the mention of these two articles might dangerously limit the police powers of the States with regard to other articles. After debate the amendment was negatived by 15 votes to 14. (Id. pp. 1140–8.)

During the statutory adjournment, the Legislative Assemblies of New South Wales and Victoria, and both Houses in South Australia, made suggestions substantially identical with Mr. Deakin's “opium and alcohol” proposal; and the Legislative Assembly of Victoria made a suggestion (practically identical with the Wilson Act—Note, § 456, infra) to add to the trade and commerce sub-clause these words:—

“Provided that all fermented, distilled, or other intoxicating liquors or liquids transported into any State or territory or remaining therein for use, consumption, sale, or storage therein, shall upon arrival in such State or territory be subject to the operation and effect of the laws of such State or territory to the same extent and in the same manner as though such liquors or liquids had been produced in such State or territory.”

At the Sydney session, Mr. Deakin moved the Victorian amendment, which after considerable debate was carried. (Conv. Deb., Syd., 1897, pp. 1037–59.) At the Melbourne session, before the first report, the provision was transferred, with verbal amendments, to a separate clause. A further drafting amendment was made after the fourth report.

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