Although the Supreme Court had generally refused to uphold laws that it characterized as STATE REGULATION OF COMMERCE, a series of decisions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries deferred to such action. Reacting to a clear invitation in the Court's opinion in LEISY V. HARDIN (1890), holding that absent congressional authorization a state could not prevent the importation and first sale of liquor in the original package, Congress passed the Wilson Act. The law subjected intoxicating liquor "to the operation and effect of the laws of [a] State or territory enacted in the exercise of its [ STATE ] POLICE POWERS " despite the liquor's journey in INTERSTATE COMMERCE and the ORIGINAL PACKAGE DOCTRINE. The Court sustained that act in In re Rahrer (1891).
The Webb-Kenyon Act, passed over the veto of President WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT, divested liquor of its interstate character when introduced in violation of state law. Congress thus effectively allowed state prohibition laws to regulate national commerce in liquor. The Court upheld this act in CLARK DISTILLING COMPANY V. WESTERN MARYLAND RAILWAY CO. (1917).
SEMONCHE, JOHN E. 1978 Charting the Future: The Supreme Court...