Heyman v. Hays - 236 U.S. 178 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
Heyman v. Hays, 236 U.S. 178 (1915)
Heyman v. Hays
Argued January 14, 1915
Decided February 23, 1915
236 U.S. 178
The rulings of this Court concerning the operation of the commerce clause of the federal Constitution rest upon the broad principle of the freedom of commerce between the states, and of the equal right of a citizen of one state to freely contract either to receive merchandise from, or to send merchandise into, another state. An. Express Co. v. Iowa, 196 U. S. 133.
The right to engage in interstate commerce is not the gift of a state; it cannot he regulated or restrained by a state, nor can a state exclude from its limits a corporation engaged in such commerce. West v. Kansas Natural Gas Co., 221 U. S. 229.
The selling of liquor under a strictly mail-order business and the delivery within the state to a carrier for through shipment to another state to fill such orders in interstate commerce is beyond the control of the state.
Substance, and not form, controls in determining whether a particular transaction is one of interstate commerce, and the mere method of delivery is a negligible circumstance if, in substantial effect, the transaction is such under the facts.
The protection against imposition by the direct burdens upon the right to do interstate commerce is practical and substantial, and embraces those acts which are necessary to the complete enjoyment of the right protected.
The mere fact that a concern doing a strictly interstate business has goods on hand within the state capable of being used in intrastate commerce, and to which attention is given, does not take the business out of the protection of the commerce clause and allow the state to impose a privilege tax on such concern.
Delivery to a carrier within the state for the sole purpose of through shipment to another state in fulfillment of a previous order from the latter state is not, in a practical sense, the doing of business within the state so as to subject the business to a privilege tax, and so held as to the privilege tax attempted to be imposed by a county in Tennessee on a concern doing a strictly mail-order business confined to shipments to other states.
The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the commerce clause of the federal Constitution of a privilege tax imposed by state authority on a wholesale liquor business confined exclusively to filling mail orders from points outside the state, are stated in the opinion.