Kidd v. Pearson

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Kidd v. Pearson
Argued April 4, 1888
Decided October 22, 1888
Full case nameJ. S. Kidd v. I. E. Pearson
Citations128 U.S. 1 (more)
9 S. Ct. 6; 32 L. Ed. 346; 1888 U.S. LEXIS 2193
Case history
PriorError to the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa
There is no conflict and the state law is valid. The Court erected a distinction between manufacture and commerce. The state law regulated manufacturing only. A broad view of commerce that embraces manufacturing would also embrace the power to regulate "every branch of human industry."
Court membership
Chief Justice
Melville Fuller
Associate Justices
Samuel F. Miller · Stephen J. Field
Joseph P. Bradley · John M. Harlan
Stanley Matthews · Horace Gray
Samuel Blatchford · Lucius Q. C. Lamar II
Case opinion
MajorityLamar, joined by Miller, Field, Bradley, Harlan, Matthews, Gray, Blatchford
Fuller took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1 (1888), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a distinction between manufacturing and commerce meant that an Iowa law that prohibited the manufacture of alcohol (in this case for sale out-of-state) was constitutional as it did not conflict with the power of the US Congress to regulate interstate commerce.


In 1882, Iowa became a dry state with a passage of a state constitutional amendment. An Iowa state law supporting that prohibition made the manufacturing of liquor in Iowa illegal unless it was for mechanical, medicinal, culinary, and sacramental purposes. Nonetheless, the Polk County Board of Supervisors granted J. S. Kidd a license to operate a distillery in 1884 for other uses based on his intent to only sell the liquor outside the state of Iowa. When the state moved to close the distillery as a public nuisance, Kidd sued and argued it was outside of state jurisdiction as an exclusively interstate business under the commerce clause.

Question before the Supreme Court[edit]

Is there a conflict between the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

Decision of the Court[edit]

The court ruled that there was not a conflict between Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce and the state law covering manufacturing within a given state. Therefore, the law was valid.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1 (1888).

Further reading[edit]

  • Fedora, H. Appleton (1940). "The Commerce Clause, the State's Police Power and Intoxicating Liquors". Kentucky Law Journal. 29: 66.

External links[edit]