Brief Fact Summary.
The petitioner challenges the constitutional validity of an ordinance of the City of Madison, Wisconsin, that makes it unlawful to sell any milk as pasteurized unless it has been processed and bottled at an approved plant within a radius of five miles from the central square of Madison. Appellant is an Illinois corporation engaged in distributing milk and milk products in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A State may not discriminate against interstate commerce and out-of-state producers or exporters if reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives, adequate to conserve legitimate local interests, are available.
What is ultimate is the principle that one state in its dealings with another may not place itself in a position of economic isolation.View Full Point of Law
The City of Madison, Wisconsin, seeking to regulate the sale of milk and milk products within the municipality’s jurisdiction, enacted an ordinance that makes it unlawful to sell any milk as pasteurized unless it has been processed and bottled at an approved plant within a radius of five miles from the central square of Madison. The area defined by the ordinance include 500 farms which supply milk from Madison. The lower courts found that the ordinance promotes convenient, economical and efficient plant inspection. Appellant was denied a license to sell its products within Madison because its pasteurization plants were more than five miles away.
Is the ordinance of the City of Madison, Wisconsin, that makes it unlawful to sell any milk as pasteurized unless it has been processed and bottled at an approved plant within a radius of five miles from the central square of Madison unconstitutional?
Yes, the ordinance in question is unlawful because the regulation in practical effect excludes from distribution in Madison wholesale milk produced and pasteurized in Illinois. Thus, the ordinance places an economic barrier protecting a major local industry against competition from without the State, and Madison plainly discriminates against interstate commerce.
There is no finding in the state courts that the appellant, Dean Milk Company, is unable to have its milk pasteurized within the defined geographical area. Dean’s personal preference to pasteurize in Illinois, not the ordinance, keeps its milk out of Madison. Further, Madison has a good-faith attempt to safeguard public health by making adequate sanitation inspections possible. The fact that the ordinance like all health inspections imposes some burden on trade does not mean that it discriminates against interstate commerce.
The regulation from the Madison ordinance discriminates against interstate commerce and Illinois wholesalers by requiring their milk to be processed at plants located in Madison. Moreover, there are reasonable and adequate alternatives available. If Madison prefers to rely upon its own officials for inspection of distant milk sources, such inspection is readily open to it without hardship for it could charge the actual and reasonable cost of such inspection to the importing producers and processors. Also, the appellee submitted an alternative proposal based on the ordinance that imposes no geographical limitation on location of milk sources and processing plants but excludes from municipality milk not produced and pasteurized conformably to standards as high as those enforced by the receiving city. Thus, the ordinance at issue is unconstitutional.