Query v. United States, No. 619

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
Citation86 L.Ed. 1616,316 U.S. 486,62 S.Ct. 1122
Docket NumberNo. 619
Decision Date01 June 1942
PartiesQUERY et al., Members of and Constituting South Carolina Tax Commission, v. UNITED STATES et al

316 U.S. 486
62 S.Ct. 1122
86 L.Ed. 1616
QUERY et al., Members of and Constituting South Carolina Tax Commission,

v.

UNITED STATES et al.

No. 619.
Argued May 5, 1942.
Decided June 1, 1942.

Messrs. Claude K. Wingate and John M. Daniel, both of Columbia, S.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Samuel O. Clark, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondents.

Page 487

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

A statute of South Carolina imposes a license tax for the privilege of selling tobacco products, playing cards, soft drinks, and other enumerated articles. 1 The United States and two Army officers brought this suit against the members of the South Carolina Tax Commission to enjoin enforcement of this statute with respect to activities of United States Army Post Exchanges located within the state. The bill alleged that post exchanges are instrumentalities of the United States, operating as voluntary unincorporated organizations under the direction and supervision of the United States Army and in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Secretary of War; that the respondents had ordered that the tax be applied to the purchase and sale of commodities by the exchanges; that enforcement would inflict immediate and irreparable damage for which the complainants were without any plain, speedy, and efficient remedy in the courts of South Carolina; that the Congressional consent given by a recent federal statute (54 Stat. 1059, 4 U.S.C.A. § 12 et seq.) for the imposition of certain kinds of state taxes within 'Federal areas' did not extend to the imposition of taxes on the purchases and sales of commodities by post exchanges; and that the threatened application of the South Carolina statute would interfere with the activities of the United States Government and would be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. The respondents' answer admitted the threatened enforcement and the absence of remedy in the South Carolina courts, but denied that post exchanges are instrumentalities of the United States and that application of the statute to them would be repugnant to the United States Constitution. With respect to the federal statute

Page 488

referred to in the complaint, the answer stated: '* * * no consent of Congress is necessary to permit the State to levy its lawful tax * * *, the territorial immunity having been removed by Public Act No. 819, 76th Congress.'

A Federal District Court of three judges. satisfying the requirements of Section 266 of the Judicial Code,2 heard the case and granted the injunction sought by the complainants. 37 F.Supp. 972. The opinion accompanying the decree stated, however, that the three judges were of the view that a district judge alone had exclusive jurisdiction to pass upon the case; and that the decree should therefore be considered 'not as the decree of a three-judge court but as his decree, from which appeal lies to the Circuit Court of Appeals and not to the Supreme Court.' Nevertheless, all three judges signed the decree 'so that in the event that it should hereafter be determined that the case was one for three judges under the statute, an appropriate decree will have been entered.' 37 F.Supp. 972, 977. The Circuit Court of Appeals, of the same view on the question of jurisdiction, granted an appeal and affirmed. 4 Cir., 121 F.2d 631.

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64 practice notes
  • United States v. Livingston, Civ. A. No. AC-174.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • November 18, 1959
    ...II. The defendants also contend this is not a case for a three judge court, a contention which is foreclosed by Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616, without regard to 179 F. Supp. 16 the fact that § 65-1361.1 of the South Carolina Code of 1952, if it may be co......
  • Kesler v. Department of Public Safety, Financial Responsibility Division, State of Utah, No. 14
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 26, 1962
    ...Congress, not the constitutionality of the state enactment.' 310 U.S., at 359, 60 S.Ct. at 950. Contrariwise, in Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616, the complainant sought to restrain the state officers from enforcing a state statute on the score of unconstit......
  • New York v. Trump, 20-CV-5770 (RCW) (PWH) (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2020
    ...prejudice to litigants when the jurisdiction of a three-judge court is unclear has been used before" (citing Query v. United States , 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616 (1942) )); FAIR v. Klutznick , 486 F. Supp. at 578 (three-judge court) ("District Judge Gasch additionally certifi......
  • United States v. Sullivan, Civ. No. 11928.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • June 28, 1967
    ...(1965), overruling Kesler v. Department of Public Safety, 369 U.S. 153, 82 S.Ct. 807, 7 L.Ed.2d 641 (1962). See Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616 Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint because barred by the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 134......
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64 cases
  • United States v. Livingston, Civ. A. No. AC-174.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • November 18, 1959
    ...II. The defendants also contend this is not a case for a three judge court, a contention which is foreclosed by Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616, without regard to 179 F. Supp. 16 the fact that § 65-1361.1 of the South Carolina Code of 1952, if it may be co......
  • Kesler v. Department of Public Safety, Financial Responsibility Division, State of Utah, No. 14
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 26, 1962
    ...Congress, not the constitutionality of the state enactment.' 310 U.S., at 359, 60 S.Ct. at 950. Contrariwise, in Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616, the complainant sought to restrain the state officers from enforcing a state statute on the score of unconstit......
  • New York v. Trump, 20-CV-5770 (RCW) (PWH) (JMF)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 10, 2020
    ...prejudice to litigants when the jurisdiction of a three-judge court is unclear has been used before" (citing Query v. United States , 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616 (1942) )); FAIR v. Klutznick , 486 F. Supp. at 578 (three-judge court) ("District Judge Gasch additionally certifi......
  • United States v. Sullivan, Civ. No. 11928.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • June 28, 1967
    ...(1965), overruling Kesler v. Department of Public Safety, 369 U.S. 153, 82 S.Ct. 807, 7 L.Ed.2d 641 (1962). See Query v. United States, 316 U.S. 486, 62 S.Ct. 1122, 86 L.Ed. 1616 Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint because barred by the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 134......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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