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decided: May 19, 1890.



Author: Harlan

[ 136 U.S. Page 317]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

Henry E. Barber, the appellee, was convicted before a justice of the peace in Ramsey County, Minnesota, of the offence of having wrongfully and unlawfully offered and exposed for sale, and of having sold, for human food, one hundred pounds of fresh uncured beef, part of an animal slaughtered in the State of Illinois, but which had not been inspected in Minnesota, and "certified" before slaughter by an inspector appointed under the laws of the latter State. Having been committed to the common jail of the county pursuant to a judgment of imprisonment for the term of thirty days, he sued out a writ of habeas corpus from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Minnesota, and prayed to be discharged from such imprisonment, upon the ground that the statute of that State, approved April 16, 1889, and under which he was prosecuted, was repugnant to the provision of the Constitution giving Congress power to regulate commerce among the several States, as well as to the provision declaring that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States. Art. 1, Sec. 8. Art. 4, Sec. 2. The court below, speaking by Judge Nelson, held the statute to be in violation of both of these provisions, and discharged the prisoner from custody. In re Barber, 39 Fed. Rep. 641. A similar conclusion in reference to the same statute had been previously reached by Judge Blodgett, holding the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois. Swift v. Sutphin, 39 Fed. Rep. 630.

From the judgment discharging Barber the State has prosecuted the present appeal. Rev. Stat. ยง 764; 23 Stat. 437, c. 353.

Attorneys representing persons interested in maintaining the validity of a statute of Indiana, alleged to be similar to that of Minnesota, were allowed to participate in the argument in this court, and to file briefs.

[ 136 U.S. Page 318]

     The statute of Minnesota upon the validity of which the decision of the case depends is as follows: Laws of 1889, c. 8, p. 51.

"An act for the protection of the public health by providing for inspection, before slaughter, of cattle, sheep and swine designed for slaughter for human food.

"SECTION 1. The sale of any fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb or pork for human food in this State, except as hereinafter provided, is hereby prohibited.

"SEC. 2. It shall be the duty of the several local boards of health of the several cities, villages, boroughs and townships within this State to appoint one or more inspectors of cattle, sheep and swine, for said city, village, borough or township, who shall hold their offices for one year, and until their successors are appointed and qualified, and whose authority and jurisdiction shall be territorially coextensive with the board so appointing them; and said several boards shall regulate the form of certificate to be issued by such inspectors and the fees to be paid them by the person applying for such inspection, which fees shall be no greater than are actually necessary to defray the costs of the inspection provided for in section three of this act.

"SEC. 3. It shall be the duty of the inspectors appointed hereunder to inspect all cattle, sheep and swine slaughtered for human food within their respective jurisdictions within twenty-four hours before the slaughter of the same, and if found healthy and in suitable condition to be slaughtered for human food, to give to the applicant a certificate in writing to that effect. If found unfit for food by reason of infectious disease, such inspectors shall order the immediate removal and destruction of such diseased animals, and no liability for damages shall accrue by reason of such action.

"SEC. 4. Any person who shall sell, expose or offer for sale for human food in this State, any fresh beef, veal, mutton, lamb or pork whatsoever, which has not been taken from an animal inspected and certified before slaughter, by the proper local inspector appointed hereunder, shall be deemed guilty of

[ 136 U.S. Page 319]

     a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding three months for each offence.

"SEC. 5. Each and every certificate made by inspectors under the provisions of this act shall contain a statement to the effect that the animal or animals inspected, describing them as to kind and sex, were, at the date of such inspection, free from all indication of disease, apparently in good health, and in fit condition, when inspected, to be slaughtered for human food; a duplicate of which certificate shall be preserved in the office of the inspector.

"SEC. 6. Any inspector making a false certificate shall be liable to a fine of not less than ten dollars nor more than fifty dollars for each animal falsely certified to be fit ...

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