Nebbia v. New York


Nebbia was a store owner, convicted of selling milk below the minimum retail price of 9 cents. The New York legislature put this act into effect because they viewed that the critically depressed state of milk farmers in New York was due to price cutting among milk distributors and suggested that this destruction be mitigated by regulating the price.


Is this constitutional? In Lochner, this would not be presage.




Guaranty of due process demands only that the law shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious, and that the means selected have a real and substantial relation to the object sought to be attained.

Court Reasoning

To prevent the ruthless competition from destroying the wholesale price structure on which farmers depends for his livelihood, and the community for an assured supply of milk.

Court is really stretching the Lochner doctrine, in which the ends, need to be closely related to the means, in other words, in order to have police power, it needs to be for the public good – here, it doesn’t appear that the public good is being effected by this at all.

Lochner – does not permit government regulation of wages in the private relationship employer/employee relationships, did allow regulation of certain business affected with public interests, such as railroads…Nebbia just took an expansive view as to what public interest means.


This is not regulation, but…amounts to the deprivation of the fundamental right which one has to conduct his own affairs honestly and along customary lines.

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