ArtI.S10.C2.1.1.4 Inspection Laws

Article I, Section 10, Clause 2:

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

Inspection laws are confined to such particulars as, in the estimation of the legislature and according to the customs of trade, are deemed necessary to fit the inspected article for the market, by giving the purchaser public assurance that the article is in that condition, and of that quality, which makes it merchantable and fit for use or consumption.1 In Turner v. Maryland, 2 the Court listed as recognized elements of inspection laws, the quality of the article, form, capacity, dimensions, and weight of package, mode of putting up, and marking and branding of various kinds . . .3 It sustained as an inspection law a charge for storage and inspection imposed upon every hogshead of tobacco grown in the state and intended for export, which the law required to be brought to a state warehouse to be inspected and branded. The Court has cited this section as a recognition of a general right of the states to pass inspection laws, and to bring within their reach articles of interstate, as well as of foreign, commerce. 4 But on the ground that, it has never been regarded as within the legitimate scope of inspection laws to forbid trade in respect to any known article of commerce, irrespective of its condition and quality, merely on account of its intrinsic nature and the injurious consequence of its use or abuse, it held that a state law forbidding the importation of intoxicating liquors into the state could not be sustained as an inspection law. 5


  1.  Jump to essay-1Bowman v. Chicago & Nw. Ry., 125 U.S. 465, 488 (1888).
  2.  Jump to essay-2107 U.S. 38 (1883).
  3.  Jump to essay-3107 U.S. at 55.
  4.  Jump to essay-4Patapsco Guano Co. v. North Carolina, 171 U.S. 345, 361 (1898).
  5.  Jump to essay-5Bowman v. Chicago & Nw. Ry., 125 U.S. 465 (1888). The Twenty-first Amendment has had no effect on this principle. Department of Revenue v. Beam Distillers, 377 U.S. 341 (1964).