Prudential Ins. Co. v. Benjamin
Annotate this Case
328 U.S. 408 (1946)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Prudential Ins. Co. v. Benjamin, 328 U.S. 408 (1946)
Prudential Insurance Co. v. Benjamin
Argued March 8, 11, 1946
Decided June 3, 1946
328 U.S. 408
1. A Statute of South Carolina imposed on foreign insurance companies as a condition on their doing business within the State an annual tax of three percent of premiums from business done within the State, without reference to the character of the transactions as interstate or local. No similar tax was imposed on South Carolina corporations.
Held, in view of the provisions of the Act of Congress of March 9, 1945, 59 Stat. 33, authorizing state regulation and taxation of the business of insurance, that the tax was not in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution, notwithstanding this Court's ruling in United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Assn., 322 U. S. 533 (1944). Pp. 328 U. S. 410-411, 328 U. S. 422.
2. A state tax or regulation discriminating against interstate commerce, which would be invalid under the Commerce Clause in absence of action by Congress, may be validated by the affirmative action of Congress consenting thereto. Pp. 328 U. S. 421-427.
3. The Commerce Clause is not a limitation upon the power of Congress over interstate and foreign commerce, but a grant to Congress of plenary and supreme authority over those subjects. P. 328 U. S. 423.
4. The state tax here involved is clearly sustained by the Act of March 9, 1945, the purpose of which was broadly to give support to the existing and future state systems for regulating and taxing the business of insurance. Pp. 328 U. S. 427-433.
5. The power of Congress over commerce is not restricted, except as the Constitution expressly provides, by any limitation which forbids it to discriminate against interstate commerce and in favor of local trade. P. 328 U. S. 434.
6. If authority over interstate commerce is exercised by Congress in conjunction with the States, their joint action is limited only by those provisions in the Constitution which forbid action altogether by any power or combination of powers in our governmental system. P. 328 U. S. 434.
7. In validating the state tax here involved, the Act of March 9, 1945, is not in violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, nor of the first clause of Art. I, § 8, requiring that "all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States," nor of Art. I, § 1, conferring the legislative power on Congress, nor of the Tenth Amendment. Pp. 328 U. S. 437-439.
8. As here construed, the Act of March 9, 1945, does not involve an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of its power to the States. P. 328 U. S. 439.
207 S.C. 324, 35 S.E.2d 586, affirmed.
By an original proceeding in the Supreme Court of South Carolina, appellant challenged the validity under the Federal Constitution of a state statute which imposed a tax upon foreign insurance companies. The state court upheld the tax, 207 S.C. 324, 35 S.E.2d 586, and an appeal was taken to this Court. Affirmed, p. 328 U. S. 440.