Morf v. Bingaman,
298 U.S. 407 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Morf v. Bingaman, 298 U.S. 407 (1936)

Morf v. Bingaman

No. 772

Argued April 30, May 1, 1936

Decided May 18, 1936*

298 U.S. 407


1. A state law (New Mexico Laws, 1935, c. 56) exacting a fee for the privilege of transporting motor vehicles, on their own wheels, over the highways of the State for purpose of sale, held consistent with the commerce clause of the Constitution and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 298 U. S. 410.

So held of its application to a distinct business of moving such cars interstate, for purposes of sale, in caravans or processions, usually in units of two coupled together, each unit being operated from the foremost of the two cars composing it, by a single driver. The drivers, because of their casual employment, had little interest in the business, and were likely to be careless. The coupled cars caused unusual damage to the roads by skidding. For this and other reasons, the caravans increased the inconvenience and hazards of traffic and the burden and expense of state policing.

2. As the tax is not on the use of the highways but on the privilege of using them, without specific limitation as to mileage, the levy of a flat fee not shown to be unreasonable in amount, rather than of a fee based on mileage, is not a forbidden burden on interstate commerce. P. 298 U. S. 412.

3. It is not important that a part of the fees collected is not devoted directly to highway maintenance, the cost of which the State pays in part from the proceeds of a general property tax. Id.

4. If a state taxing provision, of whatever form its words, results in the application of the tax to a class which may be separately taxed without a denial of equal protection, those within the taxed class may not complain because the class might have been more aptly defined by the statute or because others not of that class are taxed improperly. P. 298 U. S. 412.

Page 298 U. S. 408

5. The validity of the above-mentioned tax as applied to cars driven for purposes of sale, but driven singly and not in caravans, is not involved in this case. P. 298 U. S. 413.

6. The fee provisions of c. 56, New Mexico Laws, 1935, were not repealed by c. 136 of the same session. P. 298 U. S. 414.

12 F.Supp. 765 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the three-judge District Court dismissing a bill by which a dealer in automobiles sought to enjoin the State Commissioner of Revenue from collecting a tax. Separate appeals were taken by the plaintiff and the surety on his injunction bond.

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