Singer Manufacturing Company v. Wright
Suit by the Singer Manufacturing Company against William A. Wright, comptroller general of the state of Georgia, and Lovick P. Thomas, sheriff of Fulton county, Ga., to enjoin the collection of taxes. The circuit court denied the injunction, and dismissed the bill. 33 Fed. Rep. 121. Complainant appeals.
The facts of the case fully appear in the following statement by Mr. Justice FIELD:
The appellant, the complainant below, is a corporation formed under the laws of New Jersey. The defendant Wright is the comptroller general of the state of Georgia, and the defendant Thomas the sheriff of one of its counties, both citizens of that state. The complainant is engaged, in New Jersey, in the manufacture of sewing-machines and articles employed in their use. These it sends, and has been in the habit of sending for many years, to Georgia, where it keeps on hand in its buildings a large stock, and sells them to consumers, or by subagents sent through the state. In December, 1886, the legislature of Georgia passed an act to raise revenue for the fiscal years of 1887 and 1888, which, among other things, provided for the collection of a license tax from the vendors of sewing-machines in the state. The bill alleges that in this tax the act discriminates between retail dealers who are individuals and dealers who are companies, or wholesale dealers in machines on which the tax required has not been paid by the manufacturing companies, in this: that it requires of the latter the payment of $200 for the purpose of doing business in the state, and, in addition, a tax of $10 for each agent employed; while of the former no tax at all is required. It is therefore contended that the act in this respect violates the seventh article of the state constitution, requiring uniformity of taxation upon the same class of subjects, and also the last clause in the first section of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution of the United States, which declares that no state shall 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,' and thereby imposes a limitation upon all the powers of the state which can touch the individual or his property. The bill sets forth, in substance, that notwithstanding these alleged grounds of invalidity in the law, the comtroller general of the state is seeking to enforce the collection of the tax, and has placed, or is about to place, for this purpose, executions in the hands of the defendant Thomas, sheriff of Fulton county. It therefore prays for an injunction staying the proceedings until the further order of the court, and that upon the final hearing the comptroller may be perpetually enjoined from issuing any execution for the collection of the tax. The comptroller general answered the bill, and upon the hearing which followed the court denied the injunction, and dismissed the bill. 33 Fed. Rep. 121. From its decree the case is brought to this court on appeal.
Grosvenor Lowrey and George Hillyer, for appellant.
Clifford Anderson, for appellees.
Mr. Justice FIELD, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.