Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


March 1, 1915



White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney, McReynolds

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 236 U.S. Page 569]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the court.

The State of Kansas instituted this cause in a local court, September 29, 1910. Kirmeyer was charged with carrying on a liquor business at Leavenworth in open and persistent violation of law and thereby committing a nuisance. The relief sought was "that he be enjoined from conducting said unlawful business; that he be enjoined from maintaining, using and employing said wagons, vehicles, conveyances, horses, mules, telephones and any other property in the said unlawful manner herein alleged; that upon the final determination of this action said injunction be made permanent; that said wagons, vehicles, conveyances, horses, mules, telephones and other property used in said unlawful business be declared common nuisances and that the same be abated."

In the opinion of the trial court the transactions disclosed constituted a part of interstate commerce within the protection of the Constitution of the United States; and judgment was rendered for Kirmeyer. Upon appeal the Supreme Court of the State declared, "The broad question here is whether the defendant was really engaged in commerce between the States of Missouri and Kansas, or was he only seeking by tricks and devices to evade the laws of his State -- doing by indirection that which could not lawfully be done by ordinary and direct methods." Referring to numerous opinions of this court it further said they "do not preclude a fair inquiry into methods and practices in order to determine whether transactions

[ 236 U.S. Page 570]

     under investigation constitute legitimate interstate commerce or are colorable merely and intended to evade and defeat the just operation of the constitution and law of the State." And the conclusion was -- "It is true that a citizen of Kansas who finds that his business is prohibited by our laws may in good faith engage in the same business in another State where the legal, obstacle does not exist. But he may not under the guise of moving across the state line, and other shifts or devices to evade the statutes of the State, continue in the prohibited business here and be immune from the penalties of our law. From the facts found by the court and from the testimony of the defendant, it appears that his business was not legitimate interstate commerce but was carried on in violation of the statutes of this State and is subject to abatement and injunction." Accordingly the action of the district court was reversed with instructions to grant the relief prayed for (88 Kansas, 589, 600, 603). Thereupon this writ of error was sued out.

The essential facts disclosed by the record are summarized in paragraphs (a) and (b) following.

(a) Rigorous statutes have long prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors within the State of Kansas. The city of Leavenworth lies on the Missouri River; on the opposite bank in Missouri is Stillings, a village with one store, roundhouse, a few residences, eight or ten beer warehouses, and a freight depot without a regular agent, but no post office. For a long time plaintiff in error has resided In Leavenworth and prior to 1907 he carried on there an illicit beer trade; for use in the same he there maintained a business place and warehouse and kept wagons and teams. In that year, alarmed by the activities of officials, he discontinued this office and warehouse and immediately opened others in Stillings and connected them with the Leavenworth telephone exchange. He did not change his residence nor remove his wagons and teams

[ 236 U.S. Page 571]

     from Leavenworth but kept them in quarters connected by telephone with the local exchange and continued to use them for hauling to and from the new warehouse and making deliveries. Thereafter he received at Stillings barrels, cases and casks of beer in carload lots from Kansas City and other points; sometimes he received like merchandise at the railroad depot in Leavenworth which was then hauled across the river. At the Stillings office he received and accepted orders for beer to be delivered in Leavenworth and other points in Kansas. Eighty-five per cent. come by telephone; the remainder through the Leavenworth post office, but these were carried to his place of business before being opened.

(b) Accepted orders for delivery in Leavenworth were filled by setting aside the cases, kegs or casks in the warehouse, tagging them with the names of the purchasers, and then sending them daily -- sometimes oftener -- over the bridge in his wagons to the residences of purchasers. For such deliveries no charges were made. If the goods were intended for other points in Kansas they were hauled to the railroad station at Leavenworth and there turned over to the carrier. The business for the most part was "family trade" for private use only and amounted to some $500 per month. A license tax was paid to the Federal Government; also merchant's and ad valorem taxes to Missouri; he had no Kansas license. The empty cases were gathered up by the drivers throughout Leavenworth, loaded in cars there and shipped to some other State. Advertisements in two Leavenworth papers announced his business and location at Stillings, and likewise gave the telephone number at the horse ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.