1. To justify the exaction by a State of a money payment
burdening interstate commerce, it must affirmatively appear that it
Page 300 U. S. 291
as reimbursement for the expense of providing facilities, or of
enforcing regulations of the commerce which are within its
constitutional power. This may appear from the statute itself, or
from the use of the money collected, to defray such expense. P.
300 U. S.
2. The California "Caravan Act," Stats., 1935, c. 402, defines
"caravaning" as the transportation
"from without the State, of any motor vehicle operated on its
own wheels or in tow of another vehicle for the purpose of selling
or offering the same for sale . . . to any purchaser"
located within or without the State; it prohibits caravaning
without attaching to each vehicle a special permit, for which a fee
of $15.00 is exacted. The permit is valid only for a specified trip
or trips and for a period of 90 days. The Act directs that the fees
collected be paid into the general fund in the state treasury, and
declares that they are
"intended to reimburse the state treasury for the added expense
which the State may incur in the administration and enforcement of
this Act, and the added expense of policing the highways over which
such caravaning may be conducted, so as to provide for the safety
of traffic on such highways where caravaning is being
(1) From a consideration of the Act in connection with other
California enactments, it appears that the collections are used not
to meet the cost of highway construction or maintenance, but to
reimburse the state treasury for the added expense of administering
the Caravan Act and policing the caravaning traffic. P.
300 U. S.
(2) The burden of showing that, for this purpose, the exaction
is excessive rested upon the person attacking it. P. 300 U. S.
(3) Finding of the trial court that the fee is excessive was
sustained by the evidence in this case. Id.
(4) The licensing provisions therefore impose an
unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce. Morf v.
Bingaman, 298 U. S. 407
distinguished. Pp. 300 U. S. 294
300 U. S. 297
14 F. Supp.
Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges,
enjoining the enforcement of provisions of the California Caravan
Page 300 U. S. 292
MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.
This suit was brought by appellee in the District Court for
Southern California, three judges sitting, to restrain appellants,
state officers, from enforcing the provisions of the Caravan Act,
Cal.Stat. 1935, c. 402, as a forbidden burden on interstate
commerce, and as an infringement of the due process and equal
protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. From a decree
granting the relief prayed, the case comes here on appeal under §§
238(3), 266, Judicial Code.
The challenged statute defines "caravaning" as the
transportation, "from without the any motor vehicle operated on its
own wheels, or in tow of another motor vehicle, for the purpose of
selling or offering the same for sale . . . to any purchaser"
located within or without the state. Sections 2 and 3 prohibit
caravaning without attaching to each vehicle so transported a
special permit issued by the State Motor Vehicle Department, for
which a fee of $15 is exacted. A permit is valid only for the trip
or trips specified in it, and for a period of ninety days (§ 4).
Section 6 directs that the fees collected be paid into the general
fund in the state treasury, and declares that they are
"intended to reimburse the State treasury for the added expense
which the State may incur in the administration and enforcement of
this act and the added expense of policing the highways over which
such caravaning may be conducted, so as to provide for
Page 300 U. S. 293
the safety of traffic on such highways where caravaning is being
Appellee, a resident of Los Angeles, California, carries on his
business there as a dealer in automobiles. He purchases used
automobiles in other states and transports them from the place of
purchase to points on the California boundary line, thence over
state highways to Los Angeles, and sometimes to other places, where
he offers them for sale. He conducts from 20 to 25 percent of the
total movement in such traffic. Some of his vehicles are coupled
together in twos, and move in caravans or fleets, sometimes
aggregating more than 30 cars. He gave testimony, which appellants
sharply challenge, that from 30 to 40 percent move singly and not
in company with any other vehicle. A permit is required for each
car, whether it moves alone or as part of a fleet. The District
Court found that such movement of vehicles in caravans of more than
four create special traffic difficulties, but that the movement of
four or less "constitutes no police problem;" that there is
considerable like traffic carried on wholly within the state, for
which the fee of $15 is not exacted and for which no similar or
other fee is required, and that the demanded fee for each car
moving in the interstate traffic is excessive, and bears no
reasonable relation to the increased cost of policing. It
concluded, as the appellee contends here, that the statute denies
to appellee due process and equal protection, and places a
forbidden burden on, and discriminates against, interstate
We find it necessary to consider only the contention that the
licensing provisions burden interstate commerce. We do not discuss
appellants' suggestion that, contrary to the finding below, there
is no evidence of comparable traffic moving intrastate, and hence
no discrimination against interstate commerce by the failure of the
Page 300 U. S. 294
exact a fee of those engaged in intrastate commerce. It is not
denied that the permit fee, imposed upon those engaged in
interstate commerce, burdens this commerce, but appellants urge
that it is a permissible charge for the use of the state highways
and for the cost of policing the traffic, including the cost of
administering the Act.
In Morf v. Bingaman, 298 U. S. 407
recently before this Court, the Caravaning Act of New Mexico,
containing some features similar to the present act, was likewise
assailed as burdening interstate commerce by the imposition of a
fee, of $7.50 for each vehicle moving by its own power, and $5 for
each vehicle towed by another when moving in caravan. The statute
made the privilege of using the highway conditional upon payment of
the fee. The fees collected were devoted in part to highway
purposes. We held that the fees were a charge for the use of the
highways, not shown by the taxpayer to be unreasonable, which the
state might lawfully demand. Compare Hendrick v. Maryland,
235 U. S. 610
235 U. S. 624
Interstate Busses Corp. v. Blodgett, 276 U.
, 276 U. S.
To justify the exaction by a state of a money payment burdening
interstate commerce, it must affirmatively appear that it is
demanded as reimbursement for the expense of providing facilities,
or of enforcing regulations of the commerce which are within its
constitutional power. Sprout v. South Bend, 277 U.
, 277 U. S.
-170; Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey,
283 U. S. 183
283 U. S. 186
Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. v. Richmond, 249 U.
, 249 U. S. 259
Clyde Mallory Lines v. Alabama, 296 U.
, 296 U. S. 267
This may appear from the statute itself, Morf v. Bingaman,
supra; Clark v. Poor, 274 U. S. 554
274 U. S. 557
or from the use of the money collected, to defray such expense.
Hicklin v. Coney, 290 U. S. 169
290 U. S. 173
see Kane v. New Jersey, 242 U. S. 160
242 U. S.
-169; Aero Mayflower Transit Co. v. Georgia Pub.
Serv. Comm'n, 295 U. S. 285
Page 300 U. S. 295
295 U. S. 289
compare Interstate Busses Corp. v. Blodgett, supra,
276 U. S.
Here, appellant does not show that the fees collected are used
to meet the cost of the construction or maintenance of its
highways. Section 6 of the challenged act, which directs that the
permit fees be paid into the general fund of the state treasury, is
to be contrasted with other California statutes relating to motor
vehicles, which exact license fees and taxes and direct that they
be paid, at least in part, into special funds devoted to highway
purposes. Motor Fuel License Act, § 13, Cal.Stat. 1923, c. 267, as
amended, Cal.Stat. 1935, c. 624; Vehicle Code, §§ 776, 781,
Cal.Stat. 1935, c. 27; Cal.Stat. 1935, c. 362, §§ 9(a), 9(d).
See Interstate Transit, Inc. v. Lindsey, supra,
283 U. S.
-190. Appellants point to no statute appropriating
any part of the general fund of the state treasury for highway
purposes and the Street and Highways Code, § 183, Cal.Stat. 1935,
c. 29, provides:
"With the exception of money authorized by law to be deposited
in the State highway general fund, all money available for the
acquisition of real property or interests therein for State
highways, or for the construction, maintenance or improvement of
State highways or highways in State parks shall be deposited in the
State highway fund."
Hence we must look to the statute itself to ascertain the
purposes for which the permit fees are collected. On this point ,it
is explicit. It declares (§ 6) that they are intended to reimburse
the state treasury for the added expense of administering the
Caravan Act and policing the caravaning traffic. This negatives any
inference of the purpose of the collection which might otherwise be
drawn from the statute, and from its provision that the permit is
prerequisite to the use of the highways. Compare Morf v.
It is true that this declaration is not an
appropriation of the moneys collected,
Page 300 U. S. 296
and it does not foreclose the use of the fund for highway
maintenance, should the state elect to do so. But, until such
appropriation is made, the statute itself states the legislative
purpose, and precludes state officials from asserting that the fees
are collected for any other.
The burden rests on appellee to show that the fee is excessive
for the declared purpose. Hendrick v. Maryland, supra,
235 U. S. 624
Interstate Busses Corp. v. Blodgett, supra, 276 U. S. 250
Morf v. Bingaman, supra, 298 U. S. 410
But the trial court has found that it is excessive, and the finding
is amply supported by evidence. In 1934, 9,663 cars were caravaned,
and in the first eleven months of 1935, 14,000. This supports the
inference of the trial court that 15,000 cars are brought into the
state annually for sale under the conditions defined in the Act.
There was testimony that the expense involved in issuing caravaning
permits is "about $5.00 per car," although it appeared that the
permit fee for local pleasure, cars, numbering 1,960,000, was $3
per year, of which only 35 percent ($1.05) is devoted to
The Caravan Act became effective September 15, 1935. A permit
granted under it is confined to a limited movement from the state
boundary to the immediate point of destination. The undisputed
evidence shows that, prior to the passage of the measure, two new
district inspectors were appointed solely on account of caravaning,
and fourteen new highway patrolmen were "assigned," partially
because of caravaning and its effect on traffic. The chief of the
California highway patrol, in summarizing this testimony, said that
he had put on "approximately six additional men over the whole
state because there were caravans on the road, and I anticipate
putting on more men." They receive a monthly salary of $170, which
may eventually be increased to $225. The District Court found that
the evidence indicated
Page 300 U. S. 297
that a total of ten men at a salary of $200 a month, and at an
aggregate cost of $24,000 a year, would be adequate to police the
traffic, whereas the permit fees from 15,000 cars would yield an
annual return of $225,000.
We cannot say that the evidence does not support the conclusion
of the trial court that the cost of policing would be amply met by
a license fee of one-third of the amount so charged. The
administrative expense of issuing the permits appears not to have
been included, but the testimony that that expense was about $5.00
per car does not bridge the arithmetical gap, and does not impeach
the court's conclusion that the permit fee bears no reasonable
relation to the total cost of regulation, to defray which it is
collected. It rightly held that the licensing provisions of the
statute impose an unconstitutional burden on interstate
On this record, we are not required to consider whether the
provisions of § 2 which make it unlawful
"to operate three or more vehicles or groups of vehicles in
caravan unless a space of at least one hundred fifty feet shall at
all times be maintained between each vehicle or group of vehicles
being so caravaned"
may be enforced if applied, independently of the licensing
provisions, in a statute nondiscriminatory in its operation.