McCall v. California
136 U.S. 104 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McCall v. California, 136 U.S. 104 (1890)

McCall v. California

No. 1190

Submitted October 28, 1889

Decided May 19, 1890

136 U.S. 104

Syllabus

An agency of a line of railroad between Chicago and New York, established in San Francisco for the purpose of inducing passengers going from San Francisco to New York to take that line at Chicago, but not engaged in selling tickets for the route or receiving or paying out money on account of it, is an agency engaged in interstate commerce, and a license tax imposed upon the agent for the privilege of doing business in San Francisco is a tax upon interstate commerce, and is unconstitutional.

Order No. 1,589 of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco "imposing municipal licenses," provides, among other things, as follows:

"SEC. 1. Every person who shall violate any of the provisions of this order shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment no more than six months, or by both."

"SEC. 10. The rates of license shall be according to the following schedule:"

"Subdivision XXXIII"

"First. For every railroad agency, twenty-five dollars per quarter. "

Page 136 U. S. 105

The plaintiff in error, J. G. McCall, was an agent in the City and County of San Francisco, California, for the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad Company, a corporation having its principal place of business in the City of Chicago, and which operated a continuous line of road between Chicago and New York. He had not taken out a license for the quarter ending March 31, 1888, as required by the provisions of the aforesaid order. As such agent, his duties consisted in soliciting passenger traffic in that city and county over the road he represented. He did not sell tickets to such passengers over that road or any other, but took them to the Central Pacific Railroad Company, where the tickets were sold to them. The only duty he was required to perform for such company was to induce people contemplating taking a trip east to be booked over the line he represented. He neither received nor paid out any money or other valuable consideration on account thereof.

On the 3d of June 1888, the plaintiff in error was convicted of misdemeanor in the police judge's court of the City and County of San Francisco for violation of the provisions of the aforesaid order, and on the 16th of November of that year, after a motion for a new trial and a motion in arrest of judgment had both been denied, the court sentenced him to pay a fine of twenty dollars, and in default of the payment thereof to imprisonment in the county jail of the city and county until the same should be paid, for a period not exceeding twenty days. Upon appeal to the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, that court affirmed the judgment below, and this writ of error was then sued out.

Page 136 U. S. 107

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