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U.S. Supreme Court

Atlantic Cleaners & Dyers, Inc. v. United States, 286 U.S. 427 (1932)

Atlantic Cleaners & Dyers, Inc. v. United States

No. 667

Argued April 28, 1932

Decided May 23, 1932

286 U.S. 427


1. The presumption that identical words used in different parts of the same statute are intended to have the same meaning is not conclusive. Where the subject matter to which the words refer is

Page 286 U. S. 428

not the same, or the conditions are different, or the scope of the legislative power exercised in one case is broader than that exercised in another, the meaning well may vary to meet the purposes of the law, to be arrived at by a consideration of the language in which those purposes are expressed, and of the circumstances under which the language was employed. P. 286 U. S. 433.

2. The power exercised by Congress in the enactment of § 3 of the Sherman Act, relating to restraint of trade or commerce exclusively within the District of Columbia, was its plenary power, under Art. I, § 8, cl. 17, of the Constitution, to legislate for the District, and therefore the meaning of this provision, unlike § 1 of the Act, is not limited by the scope of the power to regulate commerce (Art. I, § 8, cl. 3). P. 286 U. S. 434.

3. Under Art. I, § 8, cl. 17 of the Constitution, Congress, in legislating for the District of Columbia, possesses not only every appropriate national power but, in addition, all the powers of legislation which may be exercised by a State in dealing with its affairs, so long as other provisions of the Constitution are not infringed. It therefore had power to forbid combinations and conspiracies to maintain prices and allot customers between persons engaged in the District in the purely local business of cleaning, dyeing, and renovating clothes. Pp. 286 U. S. 434-435.

4. The word "trade" is not necessarily limited in its meaning to the buying, selling, or exchanging of commodities; it may be used in a broader sense. P. 286 U. S. 435.

5. An agreement to fix prices and allot customers, entered into by persons engaged in the District of Columbia in the business of cleaning, dyeing, and renovating clothes, though these have already passed to the ultimate consumers, is in restraint of "trade" within the meaning of § 3 of the Sherman Act. P. 286 U. S. 437.


Appeal from a decree granting an injunction in a suit brought by the United States under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Page 286 U. S. 431

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