Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Kentucky. [308 U.S. 132, 133] Messrs. Norton L. Goldsmith, of Louisville, Ky., and Ira Howell Ellis, of Boston, Mass., for appellant.
Messrs. H. Appleton Federa and M. B. Holifield, both of Frankfort, Ky ., for appellees.
Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Since March 1933 appellant, an Indiana corporation, has continuously received whiskey from distillers in Kentucky for direct carriage to consignees in Chicago. It has permission under the Federal Motor Carrier Act, 1935,1 to operate as a contract carrier, and claims the right to transport whiskey as heretofore, notwithstanding inhibitions of the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Law approved March 7, 1938.2 By this proceeding it [308 U.S. 132, 134] seeks to restrain officers of the State from enforcing the contraband and penal provisions of that enactment.
The bill charges that to enforce the Control Law would impair appellant's rights under the Commerce Clause, Federal Constitution, U.S.C. A.Const. art. 1, 8, cl. 3, and deprive it of the Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court- three judges sitting-sustained a motion to dismiss. 24 F.Supp. 924. A direct appeal brings the matter here.
The Statute is a long, comprehensive measure (123 sections) designed rigidly to regulate the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages through means of licenses and otherwise. The manifest purpose is to channelize the traffic, minimize the commonly attendant evils; also to facilitate the collection of revenue. To this end manufacture, sale, transportation, and possession are permitted only under carefully prescribed conditions and subject to constant control by the state. Every phase of the traffic is declared illegal unless definitely allowed. The property becomes contraband upon failure to observe the statutory requirement and whenever found in unauthorized possession.
Section 52 provides-'It shall be a criminal offense for any person to manufacture, store, sell, purchase, transport or otherwise in any manner traffic in alcoholic beverages as that term is defined in this Act, without first having paid to the Department of Revenue at its office in Frankfort, the license tax required by this Act, and without first having obtained the license required by this Act.' 3
Section 53 declares to be contraband: '(2) Any spirituous, vinous or malt liquors in the possession of any one not entitled to possession of the same under the pro- [308 U.S. 132, 135] visions of this Act.' 4 Peace officers are authorized to seize such contraband and institute proceedings for forfeiture.
Licenses are authorized, sec. 18(1)-(9)5 for distillers, rectifiers, vintners, wholesalers, retailers, and, sec. 18(7)6 for the transportation of liquors to and from any point in the state. Privileges which may be exercised under these are definitely set out.
Section 21-'A distiller's, rectifier's or Vintner's license, as the case may be, shall authorize the holder thereof, at [308 U.S. 132, 136] the premises specifically designated in the license, to engage in the business of distiller, rectifier, or vintner, as the case may be, as those terms are defined in this Act, and to transport for himself only any alcoholic beverage which he is authorized under this license to manufacture or sell, ....'7
Section 22-'Sales and deliveries of alcoholic beverages may be made at wholesale, and from the licensed premises only, ... (3) by licensed distillers, rectifiers or vintners for export out of the Commonwealth; provided, no distiller, rectifier or vintner, shall sell or contract to sell, give away or deliver any alcoholic beverages to any person, who is not duly authorized by the law of the State of his residence and of the Federal Government if located in the United States, to receive and possess said alcoholic beverages; and in no event shall he sell or contract to sell, give away or deliver, any of his products to any retailer or consumer in Kentucky.'