John Marshall Harlan and the Great Margarine Controversy of 1898

13Apr10

John Marshall Harlan is still making the news.  Here’s a story from Monday’s (April 12,2010) issue of The Union Leader about a 1898 Supreme Court decision that apparently still making waves in New Hampshire.  The case in question is Collins v. New Hampshire (171 US 30) in which the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to strike down a New Hampshire law that required margarine to be colored pink. The Great Dissenter, of course, lived up to his nickname by voting to uphold the law. But why? Was it a states’ right issue? Or was he some kind of anti-margarine fanatic? Perhaps he was an early proponent of anti-trans fat laws? We shall never know. For some reason he didn’t write a dissenting opinion and his papers leave no clue as to his frame of mind.

A special tip of the hat to Kurt Metzmeier for pointing out this article to me.

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