United States v. Carolene Products Co.


Power of the 5th amendment (this is in relation to people, not states).

“Filled milk act” – which prohibits the shipment of milk in interstate commerce of skimmed milk, compounded with any fat or oil other than milk…so as to resemble milk or cream.

Congress claimed – milk, combined with nondairy fats ‘is an adulterated article of food, injurious to the public health, and its sale constitutes a fraud upon the public.”

Carolene – indicted for shipping ‘milnot’ a compound of condensed skimmed milk and coconut oil made in imitation or semblance of condensed milk or cream.

Question arises – (1) does this act transcends the power of congress to regulate interstate commerce or (2) infringes upon the 5th amendment?


Is the regulation constitutional?




“Regulation which is reasonable in relation to its subject and is adopted in the interests of community is due process.” Means to the ends analysis – needs to be correctly supported, however to be legit.

Court reasoning

1st – congress had the power to prohibit shipment of adulterated  foods in interstate commerce.

2nd – the prohibition of appellee’s product in interstate commerce does not infringe upon the 5th amendment – affirmative evidence shows that that such adulterated milk, can hurt the public health, w/o them knowing the difference between adulterated milk, non-adulterated milk.

  • Appellee’s usage of milk can be fraudulent and injurious to the public at large.
  • Here the statute is inoperative unless the product in imitation or semblance of milk, cream, or skimmed milk…whether the public will be injured by false labels imposed by the pure food and drugs act….or where it is necessary to go further and prohibit a substitute food provision (in this case milk) is better suited for the legislature and not the courts.
  • 5th amendment does not have an equal protection clause.
  • 14th amendment that is applicable to states does not compel legislature to prohibit all like evils or none (does not need to be absolute) – legislature has the discretion to ‘hit’ and abuse it has found, even though it has failed to strike another.

3rd – Due process argument – a legislation enactment, which is guided by appropriate knowledge and information shall not be denied on a constitutional basis as depriving a person of life, liberty, or property – if such a statute had a rational basis.

  • It is a declaration of legislative findings as constitutional exertion of the legislative power, aiding informed judicial review…as do reports of legislative committees by revealing a rationale basis of the legislation.
  • Even in the absence of such aids, the existence of facts supporting legislative judgment is to be presumed, for regulatory purposes…a legislative act will not be unconstitutional  (affecting ordinary commercial transactions) unless in light of the facts made known or generally assumed it is of such character as to preclude the assumption in which it rests upon…
  • The individual must show that the facts that the legislative used, were indeed false, and not correct in regards to legislative decision making…

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