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Mallinckrodt Chemical Works v. Missouri ex Rel. Jones, 238 U.S. 41 (1915)

Mallinckrodt Chemical Works v. Missouri ex Rel. Jones

No. 187

Argued March 10, 1915

Decided June 1, 1915

238 U.S. 41


If it appears from the opinion of the trial court that the question of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment was treated as sufficiently raised and specifically dealt with adversely to plaintiff in error, jurisdiction is conferred on this Court under § 237, Judicial Code.

Page 238 U. S. 42

Anyone seeking to set aside a state statute as repugnant to the federal Constitution must show that he is within the class with respect to whom the act is unconstitutional and that the alleged unconstitutional features injure him. Plymouth Coal Co. v. Pennsylvania, 232 U. S. 531.

This Court will not pass upon the definition of disputed terms in a state statute where that point is not of consequence to plaintiff in error, as in a case where refusal to file a prescribed statement was based on the general theory that no statement of any kind need be made, and not upon the ground of ambiguity of any of the terms used. So held as to the expression "trust certificates" in § 10322, Missouri Rev.Stat. 1909.

In advance of any construction of a statute by the courts of the enacting state, this Court assumes that those courts will give the act such a construction as will render it consistent with constitutional limitations. Bechtel v. Wilson, 204 U. S. 36.

Objections to the constitutionality of a state statute requiring the filing of an affidavit on the ground that the prescribed form in the statute is not exactly adapted to every corporation and that the state officers have construed the statute as not permitting any alterations are too frivolous to need serious attention. In this case, neither the statute nor official caution reasonably admits of the construction contended for.

While classification must be reasonable and corporations may not be arbitrarily selected for subjection to a burden to which individuals would as appropriately be subject, there is a reasonable basis for classifying corporations on account of their peculiar attributes in regard to participation in prohibited trusts and combinations.

Section 10322, Missouri Rev.Stat. 1909, requiring officers of corporations to annually file with the Secretary of State, an affidavit in form as prescribed in the statute setting forth the nonparticipation of the corporation in any pool, trust, agreement or combination under penalty of forfeiture of charter or right to do business in the state is not unconstitutional as depriving the corporation of its property without due process of law or as denying them equal protection of the law on account of any reason involved in this case.

249 Missouri, 702, affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of Missouri requiring corporations to file annually an affidavit of nonparticipation

Page 238 U. S. 43

in trusts and combinations, are stated in the opinion.

Page 238 U. S. 48

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