Mackay Tel. & Cable Co. v. Little Rock,
250 U.S. 94 (1919)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mackay Tel. & Cable Co. v. Little Rock, 250 U.S. 94 (1919)

Mackay Tel. & Cable Co. v. Little Rock

No. 374

Motion to dismiss or affirm submitted March 3, 1919

Decided May 19, 1919

250 U.S. 94


A telegraph company, although engaged in interstate business and under the restrictions and obligations of the Post Roads Act of July 24, 1866, is subject to reasonable taxes imposed by a city upon the maintenance of poles and wires erected and maintained by the company within the limits of the city under authority granted by its ordinances. P. 250 U. S. 99.

Inasmuch as one legitimate object of such a tax is to recoup the special cost of governmental supervision and regulation, it is not a valid objection that it extends to poles standing on a railroad right of way,

Page 250 U. S. 95

or that some of these were brought within the city limits after the company accepted its special franchise ordinance, in a case where local governmental supervision is necessary for the protection of travelers on highways crossed by the telegraph line on such right of way. Id.

There is no support in the record for the contention that a tax of fifty cents per pole per year is unreasonable in amount, even though it be made to apply to poles standing on private property or upon a railroad right of way as well as to poles erected in the streets. P. 250 U. S. 100.

Where the "pole tax" imposed by franchise ordinance on one company is the same as is imposed by general ordinance on other companies, the fact that, as to poles on railroad rights of way, the tax sought to be enforced against the one company has not been enforced against the others does not prove a denial of the equal protection of the laws, without proof of arbitrary and intentionally unfair discrimination or that the circumstances of the companies and their lines were so much alike as to render any discrimination unreasonable. Id.

131 Ark. 306 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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