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U.S. Supreme Court

Highland Farms Dairy, Inc. v. Agnew, 300 U.S. 608 (1937)

Highland Farms Dairy, Inc. v. Agnew

No. 573

Argued March 8, 9, 1937

Decided March 29, 1937

300 U.S. 608


1. The Virginia Milk and Cream Act created a Commission with power to establish market areas, and to determine, after hearings, the need for regulation of milk and cream prices within each area and, if satisfied of the need, to fix prices accordingly. Held that the objection of unconstitutional delegation of legislative power has no basis under the Federal Constitution, and has been decided adversely as to the state Constitution by the highest court of the State. P. 300 U. S. 611.

2. How power shall be distributed by a State among its governmental organs is commonly, if not always, a question for the State itself. P. 300 U. S. 612.

3. The federal guaranty to the States of a republican form of government, Const., Art. IV, § 4, is not involved in this case, and, in any event, is an obligation of Congress, not of the Courts. Id.

4. A judgment by the highest court of a State as to the meaning and effect of its own constitution is decisive and controlling. P. 300 U. S. 613.

5. The validity of a provision in the above mentioned statute for the cancellation of the prices established for a market if cancellation is requested by a majority of the producers and distributors in the area affected need not be considered, because no exercise of the power of cancellation has been threatened. P. 300 U. S. 613.

6. A holding of invalidity as to this provision for cancellation would not affect the rest of the statute, because of the saving clause. P. 300 U. S. 614

7. The price-fixing and licensing provisions of the Virginia Milk and Cream Act do not apply to transactions in interstate commerce, notwithstanding the broad definition of a "distributor." This view is confirmed by the administrative practice under it and by its declaration that operations in interstate commerce shall not be deemed to be affected. P. 300 U. S. 614.

8. This statute is not invalid for failing to prescribe the standards to be applied by the Commission in granting licenses or refusing them. P. 300 U. S. 616.

Page 300 U. S. 609

The obvious purpose of the license is to provide the Commission and the members of the local boards with a record of the distributors and producers subject to the Act as an aid to supervision and enforcement. It is not to be inferred that anyone was intended to be excluded because of favor or caprice. An order refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking one may be reviewed on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

9. One who is required to take out a license will not be heard to complain, in advance of application, that there is danger of refusal. P. 300 U. S. 616.

16 F.Supp. 575 affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the District Court of three judges denying a permanent injunction and dismissing the bill in a suit to restrain enforcement of the Virginia Milk and Cream Act.

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