Missouri v. Ross
299 U.S. 72 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri v. Ross, 299 U.S. 72 (1936)

Missouri v. Ross

No. 3

Submitted October 12, 1936

Decided November 9, 1936

299 U.S. 72




1. Under § 64 of the Bankruptcy Act, claims of a State and its municipality for taxes are of equal rank, and both are in the sixth of the orders of priority prescribed by paragraph (b) of that §. P. 299 U. S. 74.

2. This Court will hesitate to disturb a long and uniform construction given to a federal statute by the lower federal courts, and the fact that the provision so construed has not been changed by Congress, although provisions closely related to it have been amended, imports a legislative adoption of such construction. P. 299 U. S. 75.

80 F.2d 329 affirmed.

Certiorari, 297 U.S. 702, to review the affirmance of an order of the bankruptcy court which confirmed an order of the referee prorating available funds to claims of a State and a city for taxes, denying priority to the State.

Page 299 U. S. 73

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent Ross is a trustee in bankruptcy. The estate of the bankrupt was indebted to the state of Missouri for taxes in the sum of $8,366.38, with interest, and to the city of St. Louis for taxes in the sum of $8,972.30 and interest. The funds of the estate were insufficient to pay these taxes in full. The referee held that the claims of the state and city were of equal rank under § 64 of the Bankruptcy Act, as amended, and that the available funds should be prorated between the claims according to their respective amounts. He therefore denied the motion of the state for priority.

The order of the referee was approved and confirmed by the District Court, and, upon appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals, the order of the District Court was affirmed. 80 F.2d 329.

The referee and both courts proceeded upon the theory that, by § 64b,

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