Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

A 1923 act of Congress banned the interstate shipment of "filled milk" (skimmed milk mixed with fat or oil other than milk fat). Carolene Products, a milk manufacturer, was indicted under the Act. The trial court dismissed the indictment. On appeal to the federal government, the court was tasked with determining whether the Act was unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment. Carolene Products argued that the law lacked rational basis and also that Congress did not regulate the use of oleomargarine, which substituted vegetable fats for butter fat, in interstate commerce.


  1. Does the law violate the Commerce Power granted to Congress in Article Section 8 and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?


  1. In an opinion authored by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, the Court upheld the act. The majority reasoned Congress may restrict shipments of certain milk substitutes without also restricting butter. Considering that Congress had held many hearings prior to passing this law, it was reasonable to conclude that Congress believed it was necessary for public welfare. Carolene Products failed to meet its burden of proving that no rational basis for the law existed. Justice Pierce Butler concurred, and Justice James McReynolds dissented.