Lacoste v. Department of Conservation - 263 U.S. 545 (1924)
U.S. Supreme Court
Lacoste v. Department of Conservation, 263 U.S. 545 (1924)
Lacoste v. Department of Conservation of Louisiana
Argued October 11, 1923
Decided January 7, 1924
263 U.S. 545
1. By right of ownership, and in the exercise of police power, a state may regulate the taking of wild animals within its borders, their subsequent use, and the property right that may be acquired in them. P. 263 U. S. 549.
2. The question whether a state law interferes with or burdens interstate commerce is determined here with regard to the substance of the law; its form, or its characterization by the state legislature or courts, do not necessarily control. P. 263 U. S. 550.
3. In the exertion of its police power to protect wild animals for the common benefit, a state may require payment of a tax upon their skins or hides as a condition precedent to transfer of its title to the dealer paying the tax. Id.
4. The fact that such skins or hides are intended to be shipped out of the state without preliminary manufacture does not prevent their taxation by the state while in the hands of dealers and before they move in interstate commerce. P. 263 U. S. 551. Coe v. Errol, 116 U. S. 517.
5. Nor does the fact that the law, for certainty of execution, taxes the hides or skins in the hands of the dealer who ships them out
of the state, or buys them for that purpose or to sell them for manufacture within the state, rather than taxing them in the hands of the trapper or buyer from whom the dealer procure them, constitute it an interference with interstate commerce. P. 263 U. S. 551.
6. A law imposing such a tax does not violate due process of law by delegating to an administrative body the authority to ascertain the prices of skins and hides paid by the dealer, determine the time and manner in which the tax shall be paid, and adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations, not contrary to the act, in relation to the collection of the tax. Id.
7. Wild animals taken and possessed with the permission of a state upon prescribed conditions may reasonably be distinguished from other classes of property, so that their skins and bodies may be taxed to dealers therein, consistently with equal protection of the laws, without imposing similar taxes on other kinds of property belonging to merchants. P. 263 U. S. 552.
8. A state has great latitude in choosing the means for protecting wildlife within its borders. Id.
151 La. 909 affirmed.
Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Louisiana which affirmed a judgment dismissing a suit brought by Lacoste et al. to enjoin the State Department of Conservation from enforcing payment of a severance tax.