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W. W. CARGILL CO. V. MINNESOTA, 180 U. S. 452 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

W. W. Cargill Co. v. Minnesota, 180 U.S. 452 (1901)

W. W. Cargill Co. v. Minnesota

No. 116

Argued and submitted December 3-4, 1900

Decided March 5, 1901

180 U.S. 452


Chapter 148 of the General Laws of Minnesota for the year 1895, entitled

"an act to regulate the receipt, storage and shipment of grain at elevators and warehouses on the right of way of railroads, depot grounds and other lands used in connection with such line of railway in the Minnesota at stations and sidings, other than at terminal points,"

contained in sections 1 and 2 the following provisions:

"Section 1. All elevators and warehouses in which grain is received, stored, shipped or handled and which are situated on the right of way of any railroad, depot grounds or any lands acquired or reserved by any railroad company in this state to be used in connection with its line of railway at any station or siding in this state, other than at terminal points, are hereby declared to be public elevators and shall be under the supervision and subject to the inspection of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the Minnesota, and shall, for the purposes of this act, be known and designated as public country elevators or country warehouses. It shall be unlawful to receive, ship, store or handle any grain in any such elevator or warehouse unless the owner or owners thereof shall have procured a license therefor from the state Railroad and Warehouse Commission, which license shall be issued for the fee of one (1) dollar per year, and only upon written application under oath, specifying the location of such elevator or warehouse and the name of the person, firm or corporation owning and operating such elevator or warehouse and the names of all the members of the firm or the names of all the officers of the corporation owning and operating such elevator or warehouse and all moneys received for such licenses shall be turned over to the state grain inspection fund. Such license shall confer upon the licensee full authority to operate such warehouse or elevator in accordance with the laws of this state and the rules and regulations prescribed by said commission, and every person, company or corporation receiving such license shall be held to have accepted the provisions of this act, and thereby to have agreed to comply with the same. If any elevator or warehouse is operated in violation or in disregard of the laws of this state, its license shall, upon due proof of this fact, after proper hearing and notice to the licensee, be revoked by the said Railroad and Warehouse Commission. Every such license shall expire on the thirty-first (31st) day of August of each year."

"Sec. 2. No person, firm or corporation shall in any manner operate such public country elevator or country warehouse without having a license as specified in the

Page 180 U. S. 453

preceding section, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse without such license shall be deemed a misdemeanor to be punished as hereinafter provided, and any attempt to operate such elevator or warehouse in violation of law and without having the license herein prescribed, may upon complaint of the party aggrieved, and upon complaint of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, be enjoined and restrained by the District Court for the county in which the elevator or warehouse in question is situate, by temporary and permanent injunction, conformably to the procedure in civil actions in the district court."


(1) That the highest court of the state having decided that the provision requiring a license was separable from other provisions, it was the duty of the federal Court to accept that interpretation of the statute.

(2) That the mere requirement of a licensee to engage in the business specified in the statute was to be referred to the general power of the state to adopt such regulations as were appropriate to protect the people in the enjoyment of their relative rights and privileges, and to guard them against fraud and imposition, and is not forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment.

(3) That an acceptance of a license, in whatever form, will not require the licensee to respect or to comply with any provisions of the statute or with any regulations prescribed by the state Railroad and Warehouse Commission that are repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

(4) That, as the statute applied to all of the class defined by its first section, it was not invalid by reason of its nonapplication to those who own or operate warehouses not situated on the right of way of a railroad. Such a classification was not so unreasonable as to amount to a denial of the equal protection of the laws, nor was the requirement of a license a regulation of commerce among the states.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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