Baldwin v. G.A.F. Seelig, Inc. – Case Brief Summary
Summary of Baldwin v. G.A.F. Seelig, Inc., 294 U.S. 511, 55 S. Ct. 497, 79 L. Ed. (1935).
The New York Milk Control Act set up a minimum price fixing scheme for purchases of milk by dealers from producers. The Act provided that the minimum price requirement applied both to milk produced locally and to milk imported from other states.
G.A.F. Seelig (P) purchased milk from a Vermont producer at prices below the minimum price established by the Act. The Commissioner of Farms and Markets (Darby, D) refused to grant Seelig a license unless it agreed to abide by the New York statute and regulations. Seelig refused and sued to enjoin enforcement of the Act.
The district court granted a final decree restraining enforcement of the Act in regard to milk provided in cans, but refused to enjoin enforcement of the Act in regard to bottled milk. Both parties appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.
- Is the regulation of prices a valid exercise of the states’ police power, where such regulation is intended to assure an adequate local supply in order to improve the economic welfare of local producers and the health and safety of residents?
Holding and Rule (Cardozo)
- No. The states’ police power does not extend to the regulation of prices intended to assure an adequate local supply in order to improve the economic welfare of local producers and the health and safety of residents.
A state law or regulation prohibiting the sale of milk imported from another state at prices below a minimum price established for purchases from local producers is a direct and unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce.
A law that is enacted on the grounds that the economic security of milk producers benefits the community by insuring an adequate supply and a wholesome quality of a necessary food is not a valid exercise of the states’ police power and is unconstitutional in light of the Commerce Clause. The relationship between earnings by local milk producers and sanitation is too remote and indirect to justify obstructions to interstate commerce.
Affirmed in part and reversed in part. The law is unconstitutional and unenforceable with regard both to milk supplied in cans and bottles.