Hendrick v. Maryland
235 U.S. 610 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hendrick v. Maryland, 235 U.S. 610 (1915)

Hendrick v. Maryland

No. 77

Argued November 11, 12, 1914

Decided January 5, 1915

235 U.S. 610

Syllabus

Only those whose rights are directly affected can properly question the constitutionality of a state statute and invoke the jurisdiction of this Court in respect thereto.

Where a state statute provides, as a prerequisite to the use of the highways of a state without cost by residents of other states, compliance with the highway laws of their respective states, one who does not show such compliance cannot set up a claim for discrimination in this particular.

Quaere, and not now decided, whether the Motor Vehicle Law of Maryland so discriminates against residents of the District of Columbia as to be an unconstitutional denial of equal protection of the laws in that respect. This Court will assume, in the absence of a definite and authoritative ruling of the courts of a state to the contrary, that

Page 235 U. S. 611

when a statute shall be construed by the highest court, discrimination against the residents of a particular state or territory will be denied.

The movement of motor vehicles over highways, being attended by constant and serious dangers to the public and also being abnormally destructive to the highways, is a proper subject of police regulation by the state.

In the absence of national legislation covering the subject, a state may prescribe uniform regulations necessary for safety and order in respect to operation of motor vehicles on its highways, including those moving in interstate commerce.

A reasonable graduated license fee on motor vehicles, when imposed on those engaged in interstate commerce, does not constitute a direct and material burden on such commerce and render the act imposing such fee void under the commerce clause of the federal Constitution.

A state may require registration of motor vehicles, and a reasonable license fee is not unconstitutional as denial of equal protection of the laws because graduated according to the horsepower of the engine. Such a classification is reasonable.

The reasonableness of the state's action is always subject to inquiry insofar as it affects interstate commerce, and in that regard it is likewise subordinate to the will of Congress.

A state which, at its own expense, furnishes special facilities for the use of those engaged in interstate and intrastate commerce may exact compensation therefor, and if the charges are reasonable and uniform, they constitute no burden on interstate commerce. The action of the state in such respect must be treated as correct unless the contrary is made to appear.

A state motor vehicle law imposing reasonable license fees on motors, including those of nonresidents, does not interfere with rights of citizens of the United States to pass through the state. Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, distinguished.

The facts, which involve the construction and constitutionality of certain provisions of the Motor Vehicle Law of Maryland and their application to citizens of the District of Columbia, are stated in the opinion.

Page 235 U. S. 618

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