Interstate Commerce: National Prohibitions and State Police Power.

The earliest acts prohibiting commerce were in the nature of quarantine regulations and usually dealt solely with interstate transportation. In 1884, the exportation or shipment in interstate commerce of livestock having any infectious disease was forbidden.867 In 1903, power was conferred upon the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regulations to prevent the spread of such diseases through foreign or interstate commerce.868 In 1905, the same official was authorized to lay an absolute embargo or quarantine upon all shipments of cattle from one state to another when the public necessity might demand it.869 A statute passed in 1905 forbade the transportation in foreign and interstate commerce and the mails of certain varieties of moths, plant lice, and other insect pests injurious to plant crops, trees, and other vegetation.870 In 1912, a similar exclusion of diseased nursery stock was decreed,871 while by the same act and again by an act of 1917,872 the Secretary of Agriculture was invested with powers of quarantine on interstate commerce for the protection of plant life from disease similar to those above described for the prevention of the spread of animal disease. Although the Supreme Court originally held federal quarantine regulations of this sort to be constitutionally inapplicable to intrastate shipments of livestock, on the ground that federal authority extends only to foreign and interstate commerce,873 this view has today been abandoned.

Footnotes

867
23 Stat. 31. [Back to text]
868
32 Stat. 791. [Back to text]
869
33 Stat. 1264. [Back to text]
870
33 Stat. 1269. [Back to text]
871
37 Stat. 315. [Back to text]
872
39 Stat. 1165. [Back to text]
873
Illinois Central R.R. v. McKendree, 203 U.S. 514 (1906). See also United States v. DeWitt, 76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 41 (1870). [Back to text]