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SHELTON V. PLATT, 139 U. S. 591 (1891)

U.S. Supreme Court

Shelton v. Platt, 139 U.S. 591 (1891)

Shelton v. Platt

No. 1155

Argued March 13, 16, 1891

Decided April 6, 1891

139 U.S. 591




While an unconstitutional tax may confer no right, impose no duty and support no obligation, the trespass resulting from proceedings to collect such void tax cannot be restrained by injunction where irreparable injury or other ground for equitable interposition is not shown to exist.

Thomas C. Platt filed his bill (subsequently amended) against J. W. Allen Comptroller of the State of Tennessee, and A. Shelton, Sheriff, and S. D. Cate, Deputy Sheriff, of Hamilton County, Tennessee, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Tennessee, as president of the United States Express Company, a joint-stock company of the State of New York, and as one of the members thereof, on behalf of himself and his associates, who were too numerous to be joined as parties, to restrain the collection of a license tax from the said company for the years 1887, 1888, and 1889, under certain acts of the State of Tennessee of 1887 and 1889, in that behalf, alleged by him to be unconstitutional. Complainant averred that the comptroller had issued a distress warrant to the Sheriff of Hamilton County, who had placed it in the hands of his deputy to execute, for the collection of the license taxes of 1887 and 1888, which warrant the said sheriff "has levied on or is about to levy on the property of the United States Express Company," and that the comptroller threatened to issue another distress warrant to collect the license tax for the year 1889. And the bill then proceeded:

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