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United States Supreme Court

112 U.S. 178


Wm. L. Royall, for motion.


This petition is denied. The general revenue law of Virginia provides that no person shall do business in the state as a 'sample merchant' until he has obtained a license therefor, on payment of a tax of $75, and that if he does he shall pay a fine of $500 for the first offense, and $600 for each succeeding offense. Acts Va. 1884, c. 445, §§ 30, 31, pp. 578, 579. The petitioner has been informed against, and is now held in custody for trial by order of the hustings court of the city of Richmond, for a violation of this law. According to the statements in the petition presented to us, the defense of the petitioner, upon the trial of that case, will be a tender by him, before commencing business, to the proper revenue officer of the state, of the amount of the required license tax, in coupons cut from state bonds, which the state when it issued the bonds agreed should be receivable in payment of all state dues; and a refusal of the officer to accept the tender and give a proper certificate therefor, because by a statute enacted after the issue of the bonds the tax-receiving officers were prohibited from taking the coupons for this tax. The right of the petitioner to a writ of habeas corpus from this court is put in the petition on the ground that the petitioner is detained in custody by the state court in violation of the constitution of the United States, because the statute which prohibits the officer from accepting the coupons impairs the obligation of the contract of the state to receive them, and is on that account inoperative and void, by reason of the provision of the constitution which precludes the states from passing such laws.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).