United States v. National Dairy Products Corp./Dissent Black

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Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

372 U.S. 29

United States  v.  National Dairy Products Corp.

 Argued: Dec. 5, 1962. --- Decided: Feb 18, 1963

Mr. Justice BLACK, with whom Mr. Justice STEWART and Mr. Justice GOLDBERG join, dissenting.

The statute here involved makes it a crime to sell 'goods at unreasonably low prices for the purpose of destroying competition or eliminating a competitor.' 15 U.S.C. § 13a. In United States v. L. Cohen Grocery Co., 255 U.S. 81, 41 S.Ct. 298, 65 L.Ed. 516 (1921), this Court held unconstitutional and void for vagueness a statute which made it a crime 'for any person willfully * * * to make any unjust or unreasonable rate or charge' in dealing in or with any necessaries. The rule established by that case has been often followed, [1] is in my judgment sound, and should control this case. Accordingly, I would affirm the District Court's judgment holding the statute invalid. The Court here attempts by interpretation to substitute unambiguous standards for the vague standard of 'unreasonably low prices' used by Congress in the statute. It seems to me that if this criminal statute is to be so drastically reconstructed it should be done by Congress, not by us. Moreover, I agree with the Attorney General's National Committee to Study the Antitrust Laws, which concluded:

'Doubts besetting Section 3's constitutionality seem well founded; no gloss imparted by history or adjudication has settled the vague contours of this harsh criminal law.' [2]

Notes edit

  1. E.g., Cline v. Frink Dairy Co., 274 U.S. 445, 47 S.Ct. 681, 71 L.Ed. 1146 (1927); Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 U.S. 451, 59 S.Ct. 618, 83 L.Ed. 888 (1939); cf. United States v. Cardiff, 344 U.S. 174, 73 S.Ct. 189, 97 L.Ed. 200 (1952)9
  2. Atty.Gen.Nat.Comm. Antitrust Rep. 201 (1955) (recommending repeal of § 3).

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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