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Boise Artesian Hot & Cold Water Co. v. Boise City, 213 U.S. 276 (1909)

Boise Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company v. Boise City

No. 131

Argued March 17, 1909

Decided April 5, 1909

213 U.S. 276


Equity will not interpose where there is a remedy at law which is as complete, practicable and adequate as equity could afford.

As the defense of the unconstitutionality and illegality of a tax is open in a court of law, injunction should not issue against the enforcement of the tax merely because it is unconstitutional or illegal unless other circumstances bring the case within some clear ground of equity jurisdiction.

Even though some states may for convenience of remedy permit equity to enjoin the collection of a tax for mere illegality, courts of a different and paramount sovereignty should not do so, and federal courts should not interfere by injunction with the fiscal arrangements of a state if the rights involved can be preserved in any other manner.

A municipality speaks through its council, and where the bill does not allege any facts showing threats to remove property of a complainant public service corporation, such action will not be presumed so as to give equity jurisdiction.

A suit at law by a municipality to collect a license fee imposed by ordinance on a public service corporation contemplates continuance, and not restraint, of the business of such corporation, and, as the defense of unconstitutionality of the ordinance is open in that suit, equity should not interfere.

In order to make the fear of multiplicity of suits a ground for the interposition of a court of equity, more than one suit must have been commenced, and the court should not interfere unless it is clearly necessary to protect complainant from continued and vexatious litigation.

Equity should not enjoin the collection of a tax on the ground of cloud on title when the tax can only be collected by a suit at law in which the defense of its illegality is open, and it does not appear that the tax is a lien on any of complainant's property.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 213 U. S. 279

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