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GENERAL RY. SIGNAL CO. v. VIRGINIA , 246 U.S. 500 (1918)

U.S. Supreme Court

GENERAL RY. SIGNAL CO. v. VIRGINIA , 246 U.S. 500 (1918)

246 U.S. 500

No. 177.

Argued March 11, 1918.
Decided April 15, 1918.

[246 U.S. 500, 501]   Messrs. Hugh Satterlee and McGuire & Wood, all of Rochester, N. Y., for plaintiff in error.

[246 U.S. 500, 508]   Mr. J. D. Hank, Jr., Atty. Gen., of Richmond, Va., for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plaintiff in error seeks reversal of a judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (118 Va. 301, 87 S. E. 598) which affirmed an order of the Corporation Commission imposing a fine upon it for doing business within the state without first obtaining proper authority. [246 U.S. 500, 509]   The essential facts concerning business done as found by the Commission and approved by Supreme Court are these:

We think the recited facts clearly show local business separate and distinct from interstate commerce within the doctrine announced and applied in Browning v. Waycross, 233 U.S. 16 , 34 Sup. Ct. 578.

It is further insisted that as the amount of prescribed entrance fee is based upon maximum capital stock it constitutes a burden on interstate commerce, contrary to the Federal Constitution.

Section 38a, c. 53, Acts of Virginia 1910 (copied in margin),1 requires every foreign corporation with capital [246 U.S. 500, 511]   over one million and not exceeding ten million dollars when it obtains a certificate of authority to do local business to pay a fee of one thousand dollars. Inspection of the statute shows that prescribed fees do not vary in direct proportion to capital stock and that a maximum is fixed. In the class to which plaintiff in error belongs the amount specified is one thousand dollars and, under all the circumstances, we cannot say this is wholly arbitrary or unreasonable.

Considering what we said in Baltic Mining Co. v. Massachusetts, 231 U.S. 68 , 34 sup. Ct. 15; St. Louis S. W. Ry. v. Arkansas, 235 U.S. 350 , 35 Sup. Ct. 99, 59 L. E.d 265; Kansas City Ry. v. kansas, 240 U.S. 227 , 36 Sup. Ct. 261; Kansas City, etc., R. R. Co. v. Stiles, 242 U.S. 111 , 37 Sup. Ct. 58-the two characteristices of the statute just referred to must be regarded as sufficient to save its validity. It seems proper, however, to add that the case is on the border line. See Looney v. Crane Co., 245 U.S. 178 , 38 Sup. Ct. 85, 62 L. Ed. --, International Paper Co. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 246 U.S. 135 , 38 Sup. Ct. 292, 62 L. Ed. --, and Locomobile Co. v. Massachusetts, 246 U.S. 146 , 38 Sup. Ct. 298, 62 L. Ed . --, decided March 4, 1918

The judgment of the court below is



[ Footnote 1 ] 'Sec. 38a. Every foreign corporation, when it obtains from the State Corporation Commission a certificate of authority to do business in this state, shall pay an entrance fee into the treasury of Virginia, to be ascertained and fixed as follows:

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