Leonard & Leonard v. Earle
279 U.S. 392 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Leonard & Leonard v. Earle, 279 U.S. 392 (1929)

Leonard & Leonard v. Earle

No. 260

Argued February 26, 27, 1929

Decided May 13, 1929

279 U.S. 392

Syllabus

1. The business of buying oysters and preparing them for marketing is one upon which the state may impose a reasonable privilege or license tax. P. 279 U. S. 396.

2. As a part of such tax, the state may require that the licensee turn over to it a portion (in this case 10%) of the empty oyster shells resulting from the operations of his business, or, at the election of the state, pay the equivalent of their market value in money, the shells being but ordinary articles of commerce and desired by the state for use in supporting and maintaining the producing oyster beds within her limits and preventing their exhaustion. P. 279 U. S. 396.

3. The exaction of the tax in shells is not a taking of private property for public use without compensation, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 279 U. S. 397.

4. Nor is it a violation of the commerce clause, though some of the oysters come from other states. P. 279 U. S. 397.

5. Placing oyster packers in a separate class for taxation purposes does not deny them the equal protection of the laws. P. 279 U. S. 398.

Page 279 U. S. 393

6. A requirement that the quota of empty shell exacted be retained by the licensee for a reasonable time until removed by the state s not an unconstitutional deprivation of the use of his premises. P. 279 U. S. 398.

7. An action in mandamus to compel a state officer to license plaintiff's business for the next ensuing year without his complying with statutory condition which he deemed unconstitutional held not to have become moot with the expiration of that year in view of the nature of the controversy and of a stipulation of the parties showing plaintiff's purpose to continue in business. P. 279 U. S. 398.

155 Md. 252 affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Appeals of Maryland which affirmed a judgment of the Baltimore City Court dismissing a petition for mandamus.

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