Bradley v. Richmond,
227 U.S. 477 (1913)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Bradley v. Richmond, 227 U.S. 477 (1913)

Bradley v. Richmond

No. 38

Submitted November 6, 1912

Decided February 24, 1913

227 U.S. 477


A privilege tax may perform the double function of regulating the business under the police power and of producing revenue if authorized by the law of the state.

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, neither the state nor its municipality can confer or exercise arbitrary power in classifying for purpose of regulating, licensing, or taxing.

Whether the power of classifying be exercised by the state directly or by the municipality, it is the exercise of legislative discretion and subject to the guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The power of the state to determine what occupations shall be subject to license and tax is subject to no limitations save those of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the state from delegating this power. Gundling v. Chicago, 177 U. S. 183.

An ordinance imposing a license on business, dividing it into several classes, and giving the power of classification to a committee of the council with power of review by the entire council is not an arbitrary exercise of power within the prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment, and so held as to the banker's license tax of Richmond, Virginia.

An ordinance imposing license taxes and authorizing classification which provides for a review will not be held unconstitutional because

Page 227 U. S. 478

the reviewing power might approve of an unjust classification -- such an objection would apply to any tribunal.

The presumptions are that the tribunal charged with the duty of determining whether a classification is proper will not perform its duty unjustly.

If the right to be heard and obtain a review does not avail to protect rights under the Constitution, the right to judicial review remains under the general principle of jurisprudence. Kentucky Railroad Tax Cases, 115 U. S. 321.

The burden is on the one who complains of his classification under a legal ordinance to how that he was denied equal protection of the law by such classification.

Where errors of administration in classifying for taxation can be corrected on review, one complaining that he was denied equal protection of the laws must avail of the method provided before applying to the federal courts for protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Where it is a clearly apparent error, this Court will take notice of evident omission in the transcript of record of the word "not."

110 Va. 521 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the due process and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment of a license ordinance of the City of Richmond, Virginia, are stated in the opinion.

Page 227 U. S. 480

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.