Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin

Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin case brief summary
340 U.S. 349 (1951)

Appellant, an Illinois milk distributing corporation, brought suit against appellee, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, seeking to have Madison, Wis., Gen. Ordinances §§ 7.11 and 7.21 (1949), which regulated the sale of milk, declared unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed the constitutionality of the ordinances. The corporation sought review.

The corporation was denied a license to sell its products within the city based upon the fact that the corporation's pasteurization plants were more than five miles away from the city, as mandated by Madison, Wis., Gen. Ordinances § 7.21 (1949).

  • The Court found that, under the Commerce Clause, §7.21 imposed an undue burden on interstate commerce because the ordinance excluded from distribution in the city wholesale milk produced and pasteurized in an adjoining state. 
  • The Court also found that the city had created an economic barrier protecting a major local industry against competition from outside the state, plainly discriminating against interstate commerce. 
  • Furthermore, reasonable and adequate health standard alternatives were available. 
  • Accordingly, the Court held that §7.21 violated the Commerce Clause. 
  • Because the state supreme court had found it unnecessary to pass on the validity of the separate 25-mile inspection limitation in Madison, §7.11, the Court remanded for further proceedings.

The Court reversed the decision of the lower court, vacated the lower court's judgment on the issue of the five-mile provision, and remanded the case for further proceedings with respect to the ordinance containing the 25-mile inspection provision.

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