Inspection Laws

Inspection laws “are confined to such particulars as, in the estimation of the legislature and according to the customs of trade, are deemed necessary to fit the inspected article for the market, by giving the purchaser public assurance that the article is in that condition, and of that quality, which makes it merchantable and fit for use or consumption.”2252 In Turner v. Maryland,2253 the Court listed as recognized elements of inspection laws, the “quality of the article, form, capacity, dimensions, and weight of package, mode of putting up, and marking and branding of various kinds . . . ”2254 It sustained as an inspection law a charge for storage and inspection imposed upon every hogshead of tobacco grown in the state and intended for export, which the law required to be brought to a state warehouse to be inspected and branded. The Court has cited this section as a recognition of a general right of the states to pass inspection laws, and to bring within their reach articles of interstate, as well as of foreign, commerce.2255 But on the ground that, “it has never been regarded as within the legitimate scope of inspection laws to forbid trade in respect to any known article of commerce, irrespective of its condition and quality, merely on account of its intrinsic nature and the injurious consequence of its use or abuse,” it held that a state law forbidding the importation of intoxicating liquors into the state could not be sustained as an inspection law.2256

Footnotes

2252
Bowman v. Chicago & Nw. Ry., 125 U.S. 465, 488 (1888). [Back to text]
2253
107 U.S. 38 (1883). [Back to text]
2254
107 U.S. at 55. [Back to text]
2255
Patapsco Guano Co. v. North Carolina, 171 U.S. 345, 361 (1898). [Back to text]
2256
Bowman v. Chicago & Nw. Ry., 125 U.S. 465 (1888). The Twenty-first Amendment has had no effect on this principle. Department of Revenue v. Beam Distillers, 377 U.S. 341 (1964). [Back to text]