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Miller Bros. Co. v. State of Maryland

347 U.S. 964, 74 S. Ct. 708 (1954)

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Miller Bros. Co. v. State of Maryland

United States Supreme Court

347 U.S. 964, 74 S. Ct. 708 (1954)

Facts

Miller Bros. Co. (defendant) was a Delaware company that sold goods to customers at its store in Wilmington, Delaware. Miller Bros. advertised its business in newspapers and on radio stations that were circulated throughout Delaware and Maryland (plaintiff). Occasionally, customers from Maryland would buy goods from Miller Bros. and either take the goods with them, have the goods delivered by common carrier, or have the goods delivered by Miller Bros.’s delivery truck. Because Delaware had no sales tax, Maryland believed that its citizens shopped in Delaware to avoid paying Maryland sales tax. Maryland charged its citizens a use tax for goods purchased in another state that were going to be used in Maryland. Miller Bros. failed to pay the use tax on goods sold to Maryland citizens, and Maryland seized Miller Bros.’s delivery truck. The Maryland Supreme Court held that Miller Bros. was liable for the use tax. To support its holding, the court highlighted the fact that Miller Bros. advertised in a way that reached Maryland customers and that Miller Bros. knew from its sales and deliveries that some of its customers lived in Maryland. Miller Bros. appealed, arguing that Maryland’s use tax violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and unduly burdened interstate commerce because the tax extended Maryland’s taxing power beyond its state borders.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jackson, J.)

Dissent (Douglas, J.)

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