Regulation of Transportation and “Through” Shipments.

When passing upon the constitutionality of legislation regulating the carriage of liquor interstate, a majority of the Justices seemed disposed to bypass the Twenty-first Amendment and to resolve the issue exclusively in terms of the Commerce Clause and state power. This trend toward devaluation of the Twenty-first Amendment was set in motion by Ziffrin, Inc. v. Reeves16 in which a Kentucky statute that prohibited the transportation of intoxicating liquors by carriers other than licensed common carriers was enforced as to an Indiana corporation, engaged in delivering liquor obtained from Kentucky distillers to consignees in Illinois but licensed only as a contract carrier under the Federal Motor Carriers Act. After acknowledging that “the Twenty-first Amendment sanctions the right of a State to legislate concerning intoxicating liquors brought from without, unfettered by the Commerce Clause,”17 the Court proceeded to found its ruling largely upon decisions antedating the Amendment that sustained similar state regulations as a legitimate exercise of the police power not unduly burdening interstate commerce. In light of the contemporaneous cases enumerated in the preceding topic construing the Twenty-first Amendment as according a plenary power to the states, such extended emphasis on the police power and the Commerce Clause would seem to have been unnecessary. Thereafter, a total eclipse of the Twenty-first Amendment was recorded in Duckworth v. Arkansas18 and Carter v. Virginia,19 in which, without even considering that Amendment, a majority of the Court upheld, as not contravening the Commerce Clause, statutes regulating the transport through the state of liquor cargoes originating and ending outside the regulating state’s boundaries.20

Footnotes

16
308 U.S. 132 (1939). back
17
308 U.S. at 138. back
18
314 U.S. 390 (1941). back
19
321 U.S. 131 (1944). See also Cartlidge v. Raincey, 168 F.2d 841 (5th Cir. 1948), cert. denied, 335 U.S. 885 (1948). back
20
Arkansas required a permit for the transportation of liquor across its territory, but granted the same upon application and payment of a nominal fee. Virginia required carriers engaged in similar through-shipments to use the most direct route, carry a bill of lading describing that route, and post a $1,000 bond conditioned on lawful transportation; and also stipulated that the true consignee be named in the bill of lading and be one having the legal right to receive the shipment at destination. back