The Law School Authority

Nebbia v. New York Case Brief

Summary of Nebbia v. New York
291 U.S. 502, 54 S.Ct. 505, 78 L.Ed. 940 (1934).

Facts: NY enacted statue which fixes the price that stores charge for milk because the state was having a milk surplus.  Store person was convicted of selling below that price.  He appeals on the ground that his business doesn’t affect the public interest (it’s not a utility company, etc.) and thus doesn’t fall under the previously established exception to states violating due process rights.

Issue: Does price-setting violate due process rights?

Holding: No.

Reasoning: There is no closed category of business affected with a public interest.  The function of courts while applying the 14th amendment is to determine whether the state’s regulations are reasonable.  A state may adopt any reasonable economic policy to promote public welfare.  

Dissent: The court below has not indicated how charging impoverished customers more for milk helps the public welfare.  Means-ends connection is too weak.  Fixing a price screws with the supply/demand curve and will only hurt the milk producers.


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