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the States. McLean v. Denver & Rio Grande R. R. Co., 203 U. S. 38; Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U. S. 78, 83; Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Taylor, 192 U. S. 64; Patapsco Co. v. North Carolina, 171 U. S. 345, 354; Red 'C' Oil Co. v. North Carolina, 222 U. S. 380, 394; Savage v. Jones, 225 U. S. 501." (P. 504.) The principles stated in Foote & Co. v. Maryland were recognized in Pure Oil Co. v. Minnesota, decided by this court at this term, 248 U. S. 158. The inspection fees there in question were held not excessive, and we said (p. 162) "But if such inspection charge should be obviously and largely in excess of the cost of inspection, the act will be declared void because constituting, in its operation, an obstruction to and burden upon that commerce among the States the exclusive regulation of which is committed to Congress by the Constitution."

It is said that the Foote Case did not overrule the previous case of General Oil Co. v. Crain, 209 U. S. 211, and that the principles of that case should be controlling here. In the Crain Case this court sustained a tax upon oil which had been removed from the tank cars in which it was transported into Tennessee, and which, although destined for points beyond Tennessee, was then in storage in that State. The distinction between that case and the one now under consideration is obvious. Bacon v. Illinois, 227 U. S. 504, is also relied upon. In that case this court sustained a property tax upon grain brought from another State, but taken from the carrier and held by the owner in Illinois with full power of disposition in that State, and although intended to be ultimately forwarded to a point beyond the State,-the property tax, after a review of the previous decisions of this court, was sustained.

We reach the conclusion that the statute imposing these excessive inspection fees, in the manner stated, upon all sales of oils brought into the State in interstate

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commerce necessarily imposes a direct burden upon such commerce, and is, therefore, violative of the commerce clause of the Federal Constitution. We may remark that the conclusion at which we have arrived has been reached by the supreme courts of North Dakota and Ohio. Bartels Northern Oil Co. v. Jackman, 29 N. Dak. 236; Castle v. Mason, 91 Ohio St. 296.

It follows that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Washington must be




No. 417. Submitted March 3, 1919. Decided April 14, 1919.

Congress, under the authority to raise and support armies, may make rules and regulations to protect the health and welfare of the men composing them against the evils of prostitution, and may leave the details of such regulations to the Secretary of War.

Conviction sustained, for setting up a house of ill fame within five miles of a military station, the distance designated by the Secretary of War, under the Act of May 18, 1917, c. 15, § 13, 40 Stat. 76. Affirmed

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. R. Douglas Feagin for plaintiffs in error. Mr. Oliver C. Hancock was on the brief.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Porter and Mr. W. C. Herron for the United States.

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Memorandum opinion by direction of the court, by MR. JUSTICE DAY.

Plaintiffs in error were indicted, convicted, and sentenced upon an indictment in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Georgia for violation of a regulation of the Secretary of War made under the authority of the Act of Congress of May 18, 1917, c. 15, § 13, 40 Stat. 76, 83. This statute provides: "The Secretary of War is hereby authorized, empowered, and directed during the present war to do everything by him deemed necessary to suppress and prevent the keeping or setting up of houses of ill fame, brothels, or bawdy houses within such distance as he may deem needful of any military camp, station, fort, post, cantonment, training, or mobilization place, and any person, corporation, partnership, or association receiving or permitting to be received for immoral purposes any person into any place, structure, or building used for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution within such distance of said places as may be designated, or shall permit any such person to remain for immoral purposes in any such place, structure, or building as aforesaid, or who shall violate any order, rule, or regulation issued to carry out the object and purpose of this section shall, unless otherwise punishable under the Articles of War, be decmed guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment for not more than twelve months, or both."

Plaintiffs in error contend that Congress has no constitutional authority to pass this act. The indictment charged that the plaintiffs in error did unlawfully keep and set up a house of ill fame within the distance designated by the Secretary of War, under the authority of the act of Congress, to-wit, within five miles of a certain military station of the United States.

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That Congress has the authority to raise and support armies and to make rules and regulations for the protection of the health and welfare of those composing them, is too well settled to require more than the statement of the proposition. Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U. S. 366.

Congress having adopted restrictions designed to guard and promote the health and efficiency of the men composing the army, in a matter so obvious as that embodied in the statute under consideration, may leave details to the regulation of the head of an executive department, and punish those who violate the restrictions. This is also well settled by the repeated decisions of this court. Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U. S. 470; Union Bridge Co. v. United States, 204 U. S. 364; United States v. Grimaud, 220 U. S. 506.

The judgment of the District Court is




No. 715. Argued January 10, 1919.—Decided April 14, 1919.

Constitutional questions not devoid of merit suffice as a basis for jurisdiction in the District Court, however they may be decided. P. 406.

Ordinances passed by the City of Columbus under authority of certain laws of Ohio and accepted by street railway companies, held contracts, binding the grantees to furnish street railway service for twenty-five years, at specified rates, in return for the use of the streets, and not permissive franchises which the grantees might surrender when they ceased to be remunerative. P. 407.

If a party charge himself with an obligation possible to be performed, he

Argument for Appellant.

249 U. S.

must abide by it unless performance becomes impossible through the act of God, the law, or the other party. P. 412.

An unexpected hardship may be considered in determining the scope of a contract obligation, provided the contract is doubtful and requires construction. P. 410.

Where a street car company was under a clear contract obligation to furnish service at specified rates of fare, and various effects of the war, particularly an award of the War Labor Board raising the wages of employees, wrought a serious and unforeseen change of conditions, making the rates grossly inadequate, but it did not appear that performance was thus rendered impossible or that the contract as a whole, for its term of twenty-five years, would prove unremunerative, held, that there was no vis major, excusing further performance, and that enforcement of the agreed rates would not deprive the company of property without due process of law. P. 413.

Equity cannot relieve from bad bargains simply because they are such. P. 414.

253 Fed. Rep. 499, affirmed.

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Joseph S. Clark, with whom Mr. Karl E. Burr, Mr. Henry A. McCarthy, Mr. Henry J. Booth and Mr. W. O. Henderson were on the briefs, for appellant.

The franchise ordinances granted permission to operate street cars on the streets of the City upon the terms and conditions therein prescribed, and the Company was bound to comply with these terms and conditions so long as it continued to exercise the franchises, but these grants were permissive only, and have been surrendered and abandoned by the Company. Its reasons for such surrender and abandonment were that the rates of fare prescribed in the grants were no longer compensatory, but, on the contrary, had become confiscatory.

The situation that has been brought about by the War, resulting in a most unexpected increase in operating expenses of all kinds, and particularly the compulsory annual wage increase of $560,000, due to the award of the National War Labor Board, cannot be held to have been within the

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