Standard Dredging Corporation v. Murphy International Elevating Co v. Same, Nos. 722 and 723

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
PartiesSTANDARD DREDGING CORPORATION v. MURPHY, Acting Industrial Commissioner of State of New York. INTERNATIONAL ELEVATING CO. v. SAME
Decision Date24 May 1943
Docket NumberNos. 722 and 723

319 U.S. 306
63 S.Ct. 1067
87 L.Ed. 1416
STANDARD DREDGING CORPORATION

v.

MURPHY, Acting Industrial Commissioner of State of New York. INTERNATIONAL ELEVATING CO. v. SAME.

Nos. 722 and 723.
Argued May 5, 1943.
Decided May 24, 1943.

Mr. Cletus Keating, of New York City, for appellant Standard Dredging Corporation.

Mr. Robert B. Lisle, of Brooklyn, for appellant International Elevating Co.

Page 307

Mr. Orrin G. Judd, of New York City, for appellee.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue in these cases is whether the New York Unemployment Insurance tax may be collected from employers of certain employees engaged in maritime employment on the wages of those employees. The New York Act, Labor Law, Consol.Laws, c. 31, § 500 et seq., levies a payroll tax on all employers of four or more persons, with exceptions not here material, and the sum thus collected is paid into a general fund for the benefit of all unemployed persons covered.1 The employee in 722 is an assistant cook on a dredge, and the employee in 723 is a grain worker on a floating elevator. The vessels on which both employees served were engaged primarily on work in the waters of the state of New York during the tax period. The appellants challenge the validity of the statute as applied on two grounds: (1) imposition of the tax on maritime employees violates Article 3, § 2, of the Constitution, which gives federal courts exclusive admiralty jurisdiction; (2) Congress has declared either expressly or by implication that no such tax shall be imposed on maritime employers. No other questions of jurisdiction to tax are before us. The New York Court of Appeals

Page 308

overruled both these contentions2 and the cases are here on appeal under § 237(a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 344(a).

In approaching this problem, we may put aside two questions at the beginning. It is contended that these two employees are not 'members of a crew' and hence are outside the scope both of admiralty jurisdiction and of the relevant statutes.3 In the view we take, it is immaterial whether or not the employees are crew members. We also need not consider whether these taxes affect interstate or foreign commerce, since Congress has expressly provided that a state shall not be prohibited from levying the tax because the employer is engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, 26 U.S.C. § 1600, 26 U.S.C.A. Int.Rev.Code, § 1600. Perkins v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 314 U.S. 586, 62 S.Ct. 484, 86 L.Ed. 473. The added contention that a vessel's federal license may bar state taxation is only another form of the argument that the tax burdens interstate commerce,4 and need not be considered separately.

That the state is vested with power to impose taxes in general upon employers to alleviate unemployment, and that the authority of the state is in no wise impaired by reason of blending the imposition of a tax with the relief of unemployment has already been decided by this Court. Carmichael v. Southern Coal & Coke Co., 301 U.S. 495, 57 S.Ct. 868, 81 L.Ed. 1245, 109 A.L.R. 1327; Steward

Page 309

Mach. Co. v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548, 57 S.Ct. 883, 81 L.Ed. 1279, 109 A.L.R. 1293. In a series of cases, however, beginning with Southern Pac. Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 37 S.Ct. 524, 61 L.Ed. 1086, L.R.A.,1918C, 451, Ann.Cas.1917E, 900, this Court called attention to the necessity of uniformity in certain aspects of maritime law, and invalidated several state workmen's compensation acts as applied on the ground that their enforcement would interfere with that essential uniformity. We are now asked to apply the Jensen doctrine to the field of unemployment insurance and to invalidate the statute before us on the ground that it is destructive of admiralty uniformity. The effect on admiralty of an unemployment insurance program is so markedly different from the effect which it was feared might follow from workmen's compensation legislation that we find no reason to expand the Jensen doctrine into this new area. Indeed, the Jensen case has already been severely limited, 5 and has no vitality beyond that which may continue as to state workmen's compensation laws. Cf. Parker v. Motor Boat Sales, 314 U.S. 244, 62 S.Ct. 221, 86 L.Ed. 184.

Granting that the federal government might choose to operate...

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60 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Battle v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., Nos. 12355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 8, 1965
    ...labor aboard vessels on navigable streams, Congress not having exercised its power in the same field. Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 87 L.Ed. 1416. See Pullman's Car Co. v. Pennsylvania, 141 U.S. 18, 11 S.Ct. 876, 35 L.Ed. 613. Taxes assessed on activities w......
  • Wilburn Boat Company v. Fireman Fund Insurance Company, No. 7
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 28, 1955
    ...46 S.Ct. 596, 597, 70 L.Ed. 1085. 15. Cf. Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 How. 299, 316, 13 L.Ed. 996; Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 309, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416; Caldarola v. Eckert, 332 U.S. 155, 158, 67 S.Ct. 1569, 1570, 91 L.Ed. 1968; see Pope & Talbot v. Ha......
  • Prudential Ins Co v. Benjamin 8212 11, 1946, No. 707
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1946
    ...U.S. 545, 11 S.Ct. 865, 35 L.Ed. 572; Perkins v. Pennsylvania, 314 U.S. 586, 62 S.Ct. 484, 86 L.Ed. 473; Standard Dredging Co. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 308, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416; International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 157, 158; cf. Parker v. Richard,......
  • Cobb Coin v. UNIDENT., WRECKED & ABAN. SAIL. VESSEL, No. 79-8266-Civ-JLK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • October 2, 1981
    ...Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, supra, 244 U.S. at page 218, 37 S.Ct. at page 530 (dissenting opinion); Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 309, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416 — the qualifications and exceptions which this Court has built up to that imperative doctrine have......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
59 cases
  • State ex rel. Battle v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., Nos. 12355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 8, 1965
    ...labor aboard vessels on navigable streams, Congress not having exercised its power in the same field. Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 87 L.Ed. 1416. See Pullman's Car Co. v. Pennsylvania, 141 U.S. 18, 11 S.Ct. 876, 35 L.Ed. 613. Taxes assessed on activities w......
  • Wilburn Boat Company v. Fireman Fund Insurance Company, No. 7
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 28, 1955
    ...46 S.Ct. 596, 597, 70 L.Ed. 1085. 15. Cf. Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 How. 299, 316, 13 L.Ed. 996; Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 309, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416; Caldarola v. Eckert, 332 U.S. 155, 158, 67 S.Ct. 1569, 1570, 91 L.Ed. 1968; see Pope & Talbot v. Ha......
  • Prudential Ins Co v. Benjamin 8212 11, 1946, No. 707
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1946
    ...U.S. 545, 11 S.Ct. 865, 35 L.Ed. 572; Perkins v. Pennsylvania, 314 U.S. 586, 62 S.Ct. 484, 86 L.Ed. 473; Standard Dredging Co. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 308, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416; International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 157, 158; cf. Parker v. Richard,......
  • Cobb Coin v. UNIDENT., WRECKED & ABAN. SAIL. VESSEL, No. 79-8266-Civ-JLK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • October 2, 1981
    ...Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, supra, 244 U.S. at page 218, 37 S.Ct. at page 530 (dissenting opinion); Standard Dredging Corp. v. Murphy, 319 U.S. 306, 309, 63 S.Ct. 1067, 1068, 87 L.Ed. 1416 — the qualifications and exceptions which this Court has built up to that imperative doctrine have......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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