Citizens' Tel. Co. v. Fuller - 229 U.S. 322 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
Citizens' Tel. Co. v. Fuller, 229 U.S. 322 (1913)
Citizens' Telephone Company v. Fuller
Argued May 2, 1913
Decided June 10, 1913
229 U.S. 322
Power of exemption from taxation seems to imply the power of discrimination, and in taxation, as in other matters of legislation, classification is within the legislative power, and it may be even to a greater extent.
The numerous decisions of this Court reviewed in this opinion illustrate the power of the legislature of the state over the subjects of taxation and the range of discrimination that may be exercised in classification.
The legislature, having the power of classification, has also the power to select the differences on which to base the classification.
The state is not bound to rigid equality by the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment; classification simply must not be exercised in clear and hostile discrimination between particular persons and classes.
There is a clear and reasonable distinction on which to base a classification for taxation between telegraph and telephone corporations conducting for profit large businesses and having offices and exchanges in cities and villages, and those conducting a very small business for mutual convenience of the incorporators, and so held that the Michigan statute taxing such smaller corporations does not deny the larger corporations the equal protection of the laws because it
exempts corporation having gross receipts of less than five hundred dollars.
Where there has been a constant legislative and executive construction of a provision of the constitution of the state in regard to the title of a statute clearly expressing the object thereof, this Court will not, in view of the consequences of striking down legislation, declare a statute invalid on account of defective title where, as in this case, there has been substantial compliance with the requirement of the constitution of the state in that regard.
The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of Michigan taxing telephone companies and excepting therefrom certain classes thereof, are stated in the opinion.