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U.S. Supreme Court

Foster-Fountain Packing Co. v. Haydel, 278 U.S. 1 (1928)

Foster-Fountain Packing Co. v. Haydel

No. 68

Argued April 18, 1928

Decided October 15, 1928

278 U.S. 1


1. An order of the district court refusing a temporary injunction will not be disturbed on appeal unless the refusal was contrary to some rule of equity, or was the result of improvident exercise of judicial discretion. P. 278 U. S. 6.

2. The Louisiana "Shrimp Act" declares all shrimp and parts thereof in Louisiana waters to be the property of the state; forbids exportation of shrimp from which the heads and "hulls" or shells have not been removed, but grants the taker a qualified interest which may be sold within the state, and provides that the meat, when the hulls are removed within the state, shall belong to the taker or possessor, and may be sold and shipped beyond the state without restriction. The raw shells, "as they are required to be manufactured into fertilizer or used for an element in chicken feed," are not to be exported, but, when "conserved for the purpose herein stated," the right of property therein is to pass to the taker or possessor. Upon an application for a temporary injunction to restrain enforcement of the Act, it was made to appear by allegations of the bill and affidavits, and the provisions of the Act, that conservation of the heads and hulls is a feigned purpose; that the conditions imposed upon the interstate movement of the meat and other parts of the shrimp are not intended, and do not operate, to conserve them chanrobles.com-red

Page 278 U. S. 2

for the use of the people of the state, and that the real purpose of the legislation is to prevent the raw shrimp from being moved, as heretofore, from Louisiana to a point in Mississippi where they are packed or canned and sold in interstate commerce, and thus, through commercial necessity, to bring about the removal of these packing and canning industries from Mississippi to Louisiana,


(1) One challenging the validity of a state enactment on the ground that it is repugnant to the commerce clause is not necessarily bound by the legislative declarations of purpose, but may show that, in their practical operation, the provisions directly burden or destroy interstate commerce. P. 278 U. S. 10.

(2) In determining what is interstate commerce, courts look to practical considerations and the established course of business. Id.

(3) Interstate commerce embraces all the components of commercial intercourse among states. A state statute that operates directly to burden any of its essential elements is invalid. Id.

(4) A state cannot prevent privately owned articles of trade from being shipped and sold in interstate commerce on the ground that they are required to satisfy local demands or because they are needed by the people of the state. Id.

(5) The statute (upon the facts alleged) is not sustainable as an exercise of the power of the state, as trustee for her people, to conserve the shrimp, as common property, for intrastate use. Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U. S. 519, distinguished. P. 278 U. S. 11.

(6) Taking the shrimp, with authority from the state to ship and sell all the products thereof in interstate commerce, ends the trusts upon which the state is deemed to own and control the shrimp for the benefit of her people, and those so taking them necessarily thereby become entitled to the rights of private ownership and the protection of the commerce clause; they are not bound to comply with, or estopped from objecting to enforcement of, conditions that conflict with the Constitution. P. 278 U. S. 13.

(7) From the record, it clearly appears that refusal of a temporary injunction was an improvident exercise of judicial discretion. P. 278 U. S. 14. Reversed.

Appeal from an order of the district court, of three judges refusing a temporary injunction in a suit to restrain the enforcement of the Louisiana "Shrimp Act." The case was argued with the one next following. chanrobles.com-red

Page 278 U. S. 5


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