CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.
Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Roberts, Cardozo; Stone took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This controversy relates to the constitutional validity of the Act of Congress of July 24, 1935, known as the Ashurst-Sumners Act. 49 Stat. 494.
The Act makes it unlawful knowingly to transport in interstate or foreign commerce goods made by convict labor into any State where the goods are intended to be received, possessed, sold, or used in violation of its laws. Goods made by convicts on parole or probation, or made in federal penal and correctional institutions for use by the Federal Government, are excepted. Packages containing convict-made goods must be plainly labeled so as to show the names and addresses of shipper and consignee, the nature of the contents, and the name and
location of the penal or reformatory institution where produced.*fn1 Violation is punished by fine and forfeiture.*fn2
Petitioner manufactures in Kentucky, with convict labor, horse collars, harness and strap goods which it markets in various States. It tendered to respondent, a common carrier, twenty-five separate shipments for transportation in interstate commerce, of which ten were consigned to customers in States whose laws prohibited the
sale of convict-made goods within their respective borders, five to States whose laws did not prohibit such sale but required that the goods should be plainly marked so as to show that they were made by convicts, and the remaining ten to States whose laws imposed no restriction upon sale or possession. None of the packages were labeled as required by the Act of Congress and, in obedience to the Act, respondent refused to accept the shipments.
Petitioner then brought this suit for a mandatory injunction to compel the transportation. The District Court dismissed the bill and the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decree. The District Court declared the Act to be invalid so far as it prohibited transportation of convict-made goods into States which proscribed sale or possession, but sustained the provision which required labeling. 12 F.Supp. 37. The Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the Act in its entirety. 84 F.2d 168. This Court granted certiorari.
Petitioner contends (1) that the Congress is without constitutional authority to prohibit the movement in interstate commerce of useful and harmless articles made by convict labor and (2) that the Congress has no power to exclude from interstate commerce convict-made goods which are not labeled as such.
First. The commerce clause (Art. I, § 8, par. 3) confers upon the Congress "the power to regulate, that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed." This power "is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations, other than are prescribed in the constitution." Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 196. By the Act now before us, the Congress purports to establish a rule governing interstate transportation, ...