Southern Railway Company v. Reid (1912)

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Southern Railway Company v. Reid (1912) is an early preemption case in which the Supreme Court invalidated a North Carolina statute requiring common carriers to transport freight to out-of-state locations as soon as it was received. Speaking for the Court, Justice McKenna said that between federal and state, one must be paramount, and when it speaks the other must remain silent, thus preempting that subject. Because the federal government had enacted the Hepburn Act of 1906, forbidding interstate shipment of goods until rates had been filed and published, the federal government had “occupied the field,” leaving no room for state regulation of the same subject matter.

Robert W. Langran

Last Updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal; Commerce among the States; Hines v. Davidowitz; Pennsylvania v. Nelson; Preemption; Supremacy Clause: Article VI, Clause 2