Collins v. Yosemite Park & Curry Co.
304 U.S. 518 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Collins v. Yosemite Park & Curry Co., 304 U.S. 518 (1938)

Collins v. Yosemite Park & Curry Co.

No. 870

Argued April 27, 28, 1938

Decided May 31, 1938

304 U.S. 518

Syllabus

1. The United States, owning land set aside as a national park within the boundaries of a State, may constitutionally accept from the State a cession of jurisdiction over it. The jurisdiction ceded need not be exclusive, but may be limited by reservations of powers in the State, such as the power to tax persons and their property on the land included. Pp. 304 U. S. 527, 304 U. S. 530.

It is not essential to valid acquisition of jurisdiction by cession from a State that the land involved shall be acquired by the United States for one of the purposes specified in Clause 17, § 8, Art. I, of the Constitution. P. 304 U. S. 528.

2. The territory embraced in the Yosemite National Park in California was acquired by the United States under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Part of it, known as Yosemite Valley, was granted to the State, in 1864, for park and recreational purposes,

Page 304 U. S. 519

and was regranted to the United States by Act of the state legislature in 1905. at a time when another statute (Cal.Stat. 1891, c. 181) purported to cede to the United States, over land granted to it, jurisdiction for all purposes except the administration of the criminal laws of the State and the service of civil process. The other lands composing the Park have remained in the proprietorship of the United States since the time of the Treaty. By Act of April 15, 1919, California granted exclusive jurisdiction over the Park as a whole, saving certain rights, including the right "to tax persons and corporations, their franchises and property" on the lands included, and this was accepted by the Act of Congress of June 2, 1920.

Held:

(1) That whatever the status of jurisdiction existing at the time of their enactment, these Acts of cession and acceptance of 1919 and 1920 are to be taken as declarations of the agreements, reached by the respective sovereignties, State and Nation, as to the future jurisdiction and rights of each in the entire area of Yosemite National Park. P. 304 U. S. 528.

(2) Distinguished from the right to tax, the power to regulate the sale and use of alcoholic beverages was not reserved by the State, and such regulations are not enforceable in the Park. P. 304 U. S. 530.

(3) The reservation of the right to tax is to be construed without employing the rule of strict construction applied to grants limiting a state's taxing power. P. 304 U. S. 432.

(4) This reservation does not authorize the State to exact, for the sale or importation of alcoholic beverages in the Park, the fees for licenses which are provided by § 5 of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, those provisions being regulatory in character. P. 304 U. S. 533.

This is not a case where provisions requiring a license may be treated as separable from regulations applicable to those licensed. Here, the regulatory provisions appear in the form of conditions to be satisfied before a license may be granted.

(5) The reservation, however, does authorize the State to tax sales in the Park, under §§ 23 and 24 of the Act cited. P. 304 U. S. 534.

3. A corporation operating hotels, camps, and stores in the Yosemite National Park, under a contract with the Secretary of the Interior obliging it to pay over to him a portion of its excess profits, imported beer, wine and spirits from places outside of California and retailed them to customers in the Park at prices approved by the Secretary. The California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act

Page 304 U. S. 520

imposes a tax per unit sold upon beer and wine sold "in this State" by an importer, and upon distilled spirits sold "in this State" by a rectifier or wholesaler thereof. It defines the term "in this State" as embracing all territory within the geographical limits of the State.

Held:

(1) That the company is taxable on its sales. P. 304 U. S. 534.

These tax provisions are separable from the licensing and regulatory provisions of the Act.

Although the company does not import beverages into California within the meaning of the Twenty-First Amendment, for the purposes of the Act, it is an importer making sales "within this State."

There is nothing in the Act restricting these taxing provisions to sales made by or to persons licensed under the Act.

Although the company is neither a manufacturer nor a rectifier, the tax on its sales of distilled spirits is sustainable under a provision (§ 33) that, "in exceptional instances," the state enforcing agency may sell stamps, evidencing payment of tax, "to on- and off-sale distilled spirits licensees and other persons."

(2) Objection that collection of the taxes may interfere with an agency of the United States and may be taken in part from the United States, because of its interest in the profits from the contract, is answered by the fact that the United States, by its acceptance of qualified jurisdiction over the Park, has consented to such taxation. P. 304 U. S. 536.

4. The Twenty-First Amendment did not confer upon a State the power to regulate the importation of intoxicating liquors into territory over which it has ceded to the United States exclusive jurisdiction. P. 304 U. S. 536.

20 F.Supp. 1009 reversed.

Appeal from a decree of a District Court of three judges which permanently enjoined the appellants, members of the Board of Equalization of California and the state Attorney General, from enforcing the California Beverage Control Act against the appellee with respect to sales of intoxicating liquors in the Yosemite National Park.

Page 304 U. S. 521

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