Tiernan v. Rinker - 102 U.S. 123 (1880)
U.S. Supreme Court
Tiernan v. Rinker, 102 U.S. 123 (1880)
Tiernan v. Rinker
102 U.S. 123
1. An Act of the Legislature of Texas, entitled "An Act regulating taxation," approved June 3, 1873, provides in its third section that
"There shall be levied on and collected from every firm or association of persons . . . pursuing the occupation of selling spirituous, vinous, malt, and other intoxicating liquors in quantities less than one quart, $200; in quantities of a quart and less than ten gallons, $100; provided that this section shall not be so construed as to include any wines or beer manufactured in this State."
A., who was pursuing, in that state, "the occupation of selling spirituous, vinous, malt, and other intoxicating liquors in quantities leas than one quart," filed his petition, setting forth that the wines and beer which he was selling were the manufacture not of that state, but of other states and of foreign nations, and praying that the county treasurer be enjoined from collecting the tax imposed by said act of 1873, on the ground of its repugnance to the Constitution of the United States. Held that as he was also engaged in selling other liquors, the injunction was properly refused.
2. That act is inoperative only so far as it discriminates against imported wines or beer. A person cannot, for selling either of them, be subjected to a higher tax than that imposed for selling wines or beer manufactured in the state.
A statute of Texas, entitled "An Act regulating taxation," approved June 3, 1873, enacts as follows:
"SEC. 3. That there shall be levied on and collected from every person, firm, or association of persons, pursuing any of the following named occupations an annual tax (except when herein otherwise provided), on every such occupation or separate establishment, as follows: for selling spirituous, vinous, malt, and other intoxicating liquors, in quantities less than one quart, $200; in quantities of a quart and less than ten gallons, $100, provided that this section shall not be so construed as to include any wines or beer manufactured in this state, or when sold by druggists for medicinal purposes, and provided further that this section shall not be so construed as to authorize druggists to sell spirituous or intoxicating liquors, except alcohol. For selling in quantities of ten gallons and over, $100."
"SEC. 4. That the county courts of the several counties of this state shall have the power of levying taxes equal to the one-half of the amount of the state tax herein levied, except as hereinbefore provided, and provided further that anyone wishing to pursue any of the vocations named in this act for a less period than
one year may do so by paying a pro rata amount of such occupation for the period he may desire; provided further that no occupation license shall issue for a less period than three months, and provided further that the receipt of the proper officer shall be prima facie evidence of the payment of such tax."
In pursuance of the authority conferred by this statute, the County Court of Galveston County, in March, 1876, levied a tax upon certain parties engaged in the occupations mentioned in the third section, equal to one-half the tax levied by the state.
Barney Tiernan and a number of others, who were the petitioners in the court below, are engaged in the County of Galveston in the occupation of "selling spirituous, vinous, malt, and other intoxicating liquors," some of them in quantities less than one quart, and others in quantities of one quart and less than ten gallons; and the wines and beers which they sell are not of the manufacture of the state. By the present suit against Rinker, the treasurer of that county, they seek to enjoin the enforcement of the tax against them, on the alleged ground that the statute is invalid in that it discriminates in favor of wines and beer manufactured in the state against those which are manufactured elsewhere. The district court of the state sustained a demurrer to their petition and dismissed the case. The supreme court of the state affirmed the decision. The petitioners thereupon sued out this writ of error.