Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas
217 U.S. 114 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas, 217 U.S. 114 (1910)

Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas

No. 119

Argued March 2, 1910

Decided April 4, 1910

217 U.S. 114

Syllabus

This Court will not consider whether a state statute is unconstitutional under provisions of the Constitution other than those set up in the state court even if those provisions be referred to in the assignment of error.

On writ of error, this Court is not concerned with the question of whether the statute attacked as unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment violates the state constitution if the state courts have held that it does not do so.

Whether the severity of penalties for noncompliance with a state statute renders it unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment will not be considered in an action in which the state does not ask for any penalties.

Page 217 U. S. 115

The Fourteenth Amendment was not intended to cripple the taxing power of the states or to impose upon them any iron rule of taxation.

This Court will not speculate as to the motive of a state in adopting taxing laws, but assumes, the statute neither upon its face nor by necessary operation suggesting a contrary assumption, that it was adopted in good faith.

Except as restrained by its own or the federal Constitution, a state may prescribe any system of taxation it deems best, and it may, without violating the Fourteenth Amendment, classify occupations, imposing a tax on some and not on others, so long as it treats equally all in the same class.

An occupation tax on all wholesale dealers in certain specified articles does not on its face deprive wholesale dealers in those articles of their property without due process of law or deny them the equal protection of the law because a similar tax is not imposed on wholesale dealers in other articles, and so held as to the Kennedy Act of Texas of 1905 levying an occupation tax on wholesale dealers in coal and mineral oils.

A federal court cannot interfere with the enforcement of a state statute merely because it disapproves of the terms of the act, questions the wisdom of its enactment, or is not sure as to the precise reasons inducing the state to enact it.

100 Tex. 647 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Kennedy Act of Texas of 1905 for taxing certain classes of business, are stated in the opinion.

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