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DAVIS V. WALLACE, 257 U. S. 478 (1922)

U.S. Supreme Court

Davis v. Wallace, 257 U.S. 478 (1922)

Davis v. Wallace

No. 329

Argued December 16, 1921

Decided January 9, 1922

257 U.S. 478


1. Where the case as made by the bill involves a real and substantial question under the Constitution and the requisite jurisdictional amount, the jurisdiction of the district court, and of this Court upon a direct review of its action, extends to all other questions involved, whether of federal or state law, and enables the court to rest its judgment on the decision of such of the questions as in its opinion effectually dispose of the case. P. 257 U. S. 482.

2. Equity will enjoin collection of an illegal tax in the absence of an adequate and certain remedy at law. P. 257 U. S. 482.

3. The Act of North Dakota, Laws 1919, c. 222, which lays an excise on foreign corporations of a percentage of their capital actually invested in the transaction of business in the state provides that, for one engaged in business within and without the state, investment within the state shall mean that proportion of its entire stock and bond issues which its intrastate business bears to its total business; that, where the business within the state is not otherwise

Page 257 U. S. 479

easily and certainly separable, it shall be held to mean such proportion of the entire business as the property of the corporation within the state bears to its entire property, and that, in the case of a railroad or other specified public service corporation whose line extends into the state from without, property within the state shall mean the proportion of the entire property of the corporation which its mileage within the state bears to its entire mileage. Held that the mileage basis (declared unconstitutional in Wallace v. Hines, 253 U. S. 66) was intended to be the exclusive basis for computing the assessments of such a railroad company, and that assessments based on the ratio of the value of its railroad within the state to that of its entire railroad were not authorized by the statute. P. 257 U. S. 482.

4. The unconstitutionality of an excepting provision in a statute does not enlarge the scope of its other provisions. P. 257 U. S. 484.


Appeal from a decree of the district court, after a final hearing on bill and answer, dismissing a bill filed by the Director General of Railroads and five railroad companies to enjoin the collection of a special excise tax sought to be imposed under North Dakota Laws, 1919, c. 222.

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