« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court.
New York and Pennsylvania, was not ipso facto void, and might be, notwithstanding such statutes, enforced in New Jersey.
196 U. S.
Plaintiffs in error insist that by this ruling full faith and credit was denied by the courts of New Jersey to the statutes of New York and Pennsylvania, in contravention to section 1, Article IV, of the Constitution.
By section 709 of the Revised Statutes, authorizing writs of error to the state courts, it is declared that final judgments, where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of any State, or any authority exercised under any State, on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution, etc., and the decision is in favor of their validity, may be reëxamined here.
But the validity of these statutes was not denied. The case turned upon their construction and the effect to be given to them in another State. The New York statute directly, and the Pennsylvania indirectly, forbade the maintenance of actions "in this State." The Pennsylvania statute made it a misdemeanor to transact business without complying with the law. Neither statute declared the contract so made to be void, and it was apparently upon this ground that the New Jersey courts held that the case did not fall within those decisions, wherein it is declared that a contract void by the lex loci contractus is void everywhere.
In several cases we have held that the construction of a statute of another State and its operation elsewhere did not necessarily involve à Federal question. The case is practically governed by that of the Chicago & Alton R. R. v. Wiggins Ferry Co., 119 U. S. 615. In that case suit was brought in a state court by the ferry company against the railroad to recover damages for not employing the ferry company for the transportation of persons and property across the river, as by its contract it was bound to do. The defendant pleaded that it had no power to make the contract; that the same was in violation of the laws of Illinois, contrary to the public policy
Opinion of the Court.
thereof and was void. The statutes were put in evidence, but their construction and operative effect were disputed. The Supreme Court of the State held that the contract was interpreted correctly by the court below, and that it was not ultra vires, contrary to public policy, or in restraint of trade. It was argued here by the railroad company that by law and usage of Illinois, the charter of the company in that State made the contract ultra vires. We held that the law of Illinois to that effect should have been proved as a fact, either by decisions of its courts or by law or usage in that State; that state, courts are not charged with a knowledge of the laws of another State; but they have to be proved, and that while Federal courts exercising their original jurisdiction are bound to take notice of the laws of the several States, yet this court, when exercising its appellate jurisdiction from state courts, whatever was the matter of fact in that court is matter of fact here, citing Hanley v. Donoghue, 116 U. S. 1. We said: "Whether the charter of this company, in its operation on the contract now in suit, had any different effect in Illinois from what it would have, according to the principles of general law which govern like charters and like contracts, in Missouri and elsewhere throughout the country, was, under this rule, a question of fact in the Missouri court, as to which no testimony whatever was offered."
No proof having been offered to support the averment that the contract was in violation of the laws of Illinois, the defense relying on the general claim that the contract was illegal, it was held that no Federal question was involved, and the case was dismissed. It was said that it should have appeared on the face of the record that the facts presented for adjudication made it necessary for the court to consider the act of incorporation in view of the peculiar jurisprudence in Illinois, rather than the general law of the land.
Since the above case we have repeatedly held that the mere construction by a state court of a statute of another State without questioning its validity, does not, with possibly some
Opinion of the Court.
exceptions, deny to it the full faith and credit demanded by the statute in order to give this court jurisdiction. Glenn v. Garth, 147 U. S. 360; Lloyd v. Matthews, 155 U. S. 222; Banholzer v. New York Life Insurance Co., 178 U. S. 402; Johnson v. New York Life Ins. Co., 187 U. S. 491; Finney v. Guy, 189 U. S. 335.
193 U. S.
The Court of Errors and Appeals, conceding the general rule both in New Jersey and New York to be that a contract, void by the law of the State where made, will not be enforced in the State of the forum. Columbia Fire Insurance Co. v. Kenyon, 37 N. J. Law 33 and Hyde v. Goodnow, 3 N. Y. 266 held that the state statute of New York did not declare the contract void, and that there was no decision in that State holding it to be so. In fact the only case in the Court of Appeals in New York, Neuchatel Asphalte Co. v. Mayor, 155 N. Y. 373, is the other way. The Court of Appeals in that case held that the purpose of the act was not to avoid contracts, but to provide effective supervision and control of the business carried on by foreign corporations; that no penalty for non-compliance was provided, except the suspension of civil remedies in that State, and none others would be implied. This corresponds with our rulings upon similar questions. Fritts v. Palmer, 132 U. S. 282.
With respect to the Pennsylvania statute, the court held that, although the Pennsylvania courts had held that a contract made in violation of the Pennsylvania statute was void, yet that the third plea did not contain allegations which showed that the note was given in pursuance of business carried on in Pennsylvania, and not in consummation of a single transaction; and although it was averred that plaintiff did business in that State, it was not averred that the note had any connection with the business carried on in Pennsylvania, or that it was given for goods sold in Pennsylvania. The admitted averments may be true, and yet the note may have been given for an obligation contracted out of the State of Pennsylvania, and consequently, not in violation of its laws. VOL. CXCVI-30
196 U. S.
Construing the third plea most strongly against the pleader, the conclusion was that it disclosed no defense in the action. This was purely a local question, and is not assignable as error here.
Whether, aside from the Federal question discussed, the courts of New Jersey should have sustained this action upon principles of comity between the States, was also a question within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state court. Finney v. Guy, 189 U. S. 335.
The writ of error must, therefore, be
CORRY v. THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE.
ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND.
No. 86. Argued December 8, 1904.-Decided February 20, 1905.
The sovereign that creates a corporation has the incidental right to impose reasonable regulations concerning the ownership of stock therein and it is not an unreasonable regulation to establish the situs of stock for purposes of taxation, at the principal office of the corporation whether owned by residents or non-residents, and to compel the corporation to pay the tax for the stockholders giving it a right of recovery therefor against the stockholders and a lien on the stock.
Where valid according to the laws of the State such a regulation does not
deprive the stockholder of his property without due process of law either because it is an exercise of the taxing power of the State over persons and things not within its jurisdiction, or because notice of the assessment is not given to each stockholder, provided notice is given to the corporation and the statute either in terms, or as construed by the state court, constitutes the corporation the agent of the stockholders to receive notice and to represent them in proceedings for the correction of the assessment.
While the liability of non-resident stockholders for taxes on his stock may not be expressed in the charter of the company if it existed in the general laws of the State at the time of the creation of the corporation or the extension of its charter, and the constitution of the State also contained at such times the reserved right to alter, amend and repeal, those provisions of the constitution and general laws of the State are as much a part of the charter as if expressly embodied therein,
196 U. S.
Argument for Plaintiff in Error.
THE New York and Baltimore Transportation Line was chartered in 1847 by the general assembly of Maryland, and it still exists by virtue of an extension in 1876 of its charter. At all times the corporation has maintained its principal office in the city of Baltimore.
James C. Corry, a resident and citizen of Pennsylvania, acquired one hundred and fifty shares of the stock of the transportation line, having a face value of twenty dollars per share.
The one hundred and fifty shares standing in Corry's name, as stated, were assessed for the years 1899 and 1900 for state and the municipal taxes of the city of Baltimore, the total taxes being $43.27 for the year 1899 and $36.49 for the year 1900. Conformably to the laws of Maryland, payment of said taxes was demanded of the transportation company. To restrain compliance with this demand Corry commenced the present suit, making defendants to the bill of complaint the mayor and council of Baltimore, the treasurer of the city, the treasurer of the State, and the transportation company. The relief prayed was based on averments that the laws of Maryland under which the taxes were levied were repugnant to the state and Federal Constitutions, upon grounds specified in the bill. A decree was entered sustaining general demurrers, interposed by the various defendants, and dismissing the bill. This was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. 96 Maryland, 310.
Mr. William P. Maulsby, with whom Mr. Edwin G. Baetjer was on the brief, for plaintiff in error:
While the sovereign power of taxation extends to persons residing and property situate within its boundaries and includes the right to tax in rem the local property of a nonresident, it does not include the right to impose a tax personam, or a personal obligation on the non-resident himself. Cooley on Taxation, 3d ed., 249; Louisville Ferry Co. v. Kentucky, 188 U. S. 385, 397; Dewey v. Des Moines, 173 U. S. 193,