Imágenes de páginas

Opinion of the Court.

268 U.S.

v. Williamson, 24 How., 427; Walker v. The State Harbor Commission, 17 Wall. 648; Barrett v. Holmes, 102 U. S. 651. And this is the rule even though the state rule is not approved. Walker v. The State Harbor Commissioner, supra; Bucher v. Cheshire Railway Co., 125 U. S. 555; Balkam v. Woodstock Iron Co., 154 U. S. 177. To avoid the uncertainty and injustice which result from “the discordant element of a substantial right and which is protected in one set of courts and denied in the other, with no superior to decide which is right ” (Brine v. Insurance Company, 96 U. S. 627), this Court has not hesitated, when there has been a conflict of decision between it and the state courts affecting a rule of property within the State, to overrule its own decisions and to follow the state decisions, once it has become evident that they have established a

a "rule of property” as the settled law of the State. Green v. Lessee of Neal, 6 Pet. 291; Suydam v. Williamson, supra; Fairfield v. County of Gallatin, 100 U. S. 47; Roberts v. Lewis, 153 U. S 367, 376. And see Bauserman v. Blunt, supra, overruling a decision of the Circuit Court antedating a conflicting decision of the state court. We are, therefore, constrained in the present case to accept the view of the state courts as announced by them without inquiring, as an original proposition, into the justice and sufficiency of the rule which we follow.

In the argument before this Court, petitioners relied upon the effect of c. 118 of the Laws of Mississippi of 1873 as validating his title. This was a private act of the legislature of Mississippi which relieved the Pearl River Improvement & Navigation Company from some of its obligations under the Act of April 7, 1871, upon certain payments to be made by it to the state treasury, and provided that "all acts, deeds and proceedings whatever of the Pearl River Improvement & Navigation Company be and the same are hereby legalized, ratified and confirmed.”


Opinion of the Court.

This appears to be the first occasion in the course of this litigation on which the existence of this statute and the claim of right under it by the petitioners, have been brought to the attention of the court, although it appears to have been before the state court, but not commented on, in Becker v. Columbia Bank, supra and Hines Yellow Pine Trustee v. Martin, supra. It is not referred to in the record here. By the agreed statement of facts the Act of April 8, 1871, and the patent issued to the Company are the only suggested source of title in the petitioners. No reference is made to the Act of 1873 in the assignments of error. The record gives no information as to the existing situation at the time it was passed; as to what lands had been conveyed by the Company or what lands retained. We are left uninformed as to whether the Company made the payments stipulated for in the statute. This Court is a court of review and it will not consider questions not raised or disclosed by the record brought to it for a review and which were not considered by the courts below. McClellan v. Carland, 217 U. S. 268, 283; Bass, etc., Ltd. v. Tax Commission, 266 U. S. 271, 285. And see Davis v. Currie, 266 U. S. 182 and United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Woolridge, ante

p. 234.

In these circumstances, the petitioners can not be heard to claim anything in these cases under the Act of 1873, and beyond this, we decide nothing in respect to it. Judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals is

Affirmed. Opinion of the Court.

268 U.S.




No. 998. Submitted April 27, 1925.—Decided June 1, 1925. 1. Under the Eighteenth Amendment Congress has power to pre

vent or regulate the sale of denatured alcohol which is not usable

as a beverage. P. 467. 2. The power of the Federal Government, granted by the Amend

ment, to enforce the prohibition of the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquor carries with it power to enact any legislative measures reasonably adapted to promote the purpose.

P. 468. Affirmed.

ERROR to a judgment of the District Court based on convictions under two indictments, the one charging conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Act and regulations, in offering denatured alcohol for sale without the required labels, the other charging sale of it for beverage purposes, etc.

Messrs. Gerald J. Pilliod and J. C. Breitenstein, with whom Mr. B. H. Schwartz was on the brief, for plaintiff in error.

The Solicitor General, with whom Assistant Attorney General Willebrandt and Mr. Mahlon D. Kiefer, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, were on the brief, for the United States.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

Meyer Selzman was tried and convicted on two indictments in the District Court. The first charged him, Martin Bracker, Harry Porter and others with a violation of § 37 of the Criminal Code in conspiring to violate


Opinion of the Court.

§ 15, Title III, of the National Prohibition Act (enacted October 28, 1919, c. 85, 41 Stat. 305) and the regulations relating to the manufacture and distribution of industrial alcohol prescribed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, pursuant to the provisions of Title III of the Act, in that they knowingly offered for sale completely denatured alcohol in packages containing less than five wine gallons, without having affixed to the packages a label containing the words “Completely denatured alcohol", together with the word “Poison" and a statement of the danger from its use. United States v. Grimaud, 220 U. S. 506.

Selzman was also convicted under four counts of the second indictment of violating § 4 of Title II of the Act forbidding the sale of denatured alcohol for beverage purposes or under circumstances from which the seller may reasonably infer the intention of the purchaser to use it for such purpose.

This is a writ of error under 238 of the Judicial Code, on the ground that the provisions of the Prohibition Act in respect to denatured alcohol under which these indictments were found exceed the power of Congress. Whether this is a sound contention is the only question for our decision.

It is said that the Eighteenth Amendment prohibits the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquor for beverage purposes only, and that, as denatured alcohol is not usable as a beverage, the amendment does not give to Congress authority to prevent or regulate its sale, and that such authority remains with the States and is within their police power exclusively.

Reference is had to the part of § 1 of Title II of the Prohibition Act (41 Stat. 307), as follows:

“Sec. 1. When used in Title II and Title III of this Act (1) The word 'liquor' or the phrase 'intoxicating liquor'shall be construed to include alcohol, brandy,

[blocks in formation]

whiskey, rum, gin, beer, ale, porter, and wine, and in addition thereto any spirituous, vinous, malt, or fermented liquor, liquids, and compounds, whether medicated, proprietary, patented, or not, and by whatever name called, containing one-half of 1 per centum or more of alcohol by volume which are fit for use for beverage purposes."

This, it is said, is a proper construction and limitation of what the Eighteenth Amendment was intended to prohibit and excludes denatured alcohol, although intoxicating, because not fit for beverage purposes. The argument is without force.

In order that the uses of alcohol might not be lost to the arts by reason of the then heavy internal revenue tax, Congress made provisions (Act of June 7, 1906, c. 3047, 34 Stat. 217, Act of March 2, 1907, c. 2571, 34 Stat. 1250, and Act of October 3, 1913, c. 16, § IV, N, sub-sect. 2, 38 Stat. 114, 199) by which alcohol was made tax free if denatured so that it could not be used for a beverage and evade the federal tax on the potable article. Any attempt to recover the alcohol thus denatured for beverage purposes was punished. The plaintiff in error's suggestion is that this was then within the power of Congress because necessary to protect its power of levying an excise tax on liquor under Section 8, Art. 1, of the Constitution; but that as there is now no tax upon alcohol to protect, denatured alcohol has passed out of the domain of Congressional action. But surely the denaturing of alcohol is now as necessary in maintaining its use in the arts and prohibiting its use as a beverage, as it was formerly needed to permit its use in the arts and to prevent its consumption as a beverage without paying the tax. The power of the Federal Government, granted by the Eighteenth Amendment, to enforce the prohibition of the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquor carries with it power to enact any legislative meas

« AnteriorContinuar »