California’s Anti-Okie Statute 1941

California’s Anti-Okie Statute 1941
California’s Anti-Okie Statute 1941

California’s Anti-Okie Statute 1941

Edwards v. California

Facts of the case
Anyone who knowingly assisted a pauper in entering the state of California was guilty of a misdemeanor during the Great Depression. Edwards, a Californian, drove to Texas and then back to California with his impoverished brother-in-law. Edwards was found guilty of breaking the state’s “Okie statute,” and was sentenced to six months in prison with a six-month suspension.

Is the California statute in violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution?


Yes, the Commerce Clause prohibits a state from discriminating against indigents. California’s concern for its residents’ health and the sufficiency of its welfare money does not justify the law’s burden on interstate commerce. “The destitute non-residents who are the actual victims of this statute are denied of the ability to put political pressure on the California legislature in order to secure a change in policy,” Byrnes wrote in his unanimous ruling.


The Emergency Quota Act (1921);

Congressional Regulation of Commerce (1824);

Administering Native Peoples (1824);

Internment of Japanese Americans (1942);

The Displaced Persons Act (1948).



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California’s Anti-Okie Statute 1941