Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16, 1942 -- Chicago Heads for High Court over Milk

December 16, 1942 – It is interesting to note how many things that we take for granted today begin as strange, curious, or contested, often taking years before they find acceptance.  One such item went to court on this date in 1942 as the City of Chicago, upon failing to get a permanent injunction against milk sold in paper cartons from Circuit Court Judge Benjamin P. Epstein, went immediately to the Illinois Supreme Court with its suit.  The case hinged on an interpretation of a 1935 city ordinance requiring that milk be sold in “standard” containers.  The United States Supreme Court had already sent the case back to Illinois, saying that it was a matter for the state courts to decide.  The case involved milk sold in single-serving containers, and in a 19-page opinion Judge Epstein ruled that the state legislature’s milk pasteurization law, passed on July 24, 1939, took precedence over the city’s law and permitted milk to be sold in the cartons.  “While the state legislature desired to preserve in the city the right to regulation,” Epstein wrote, “it did not intend to give to the city the right to prohibit that which the state permitted.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 11, 1942]  Interesting case . . . a mystery today why city officials would initiate a case, follow it through the local court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the U. S. Supreme Court, back to the local court and again to the state’s Supreme Court over a milk carton, all of this in the middle of wartime.

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