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U.S. Supreme Court

Dunbar-Stanley Studios v. Alabama, 393 U.S. 537 (1969)

Dunbar-Stanley Studios v. Alabama,

No. 376

Argued January 16, 1969

Decided February 25, 1969

393 U.S. 537


Appellant, a photography firm incorporated and having its principal office and its processing plant in North Carolina, was under contract with the J. C. Penney Co. to send appellant's photographers (nonresidents of Alabama) to the Penney stores in eight cities in Alabama for a few days several times a year to photograph children. Each store advertised the service, took orders, provided studio space, arranged for sittings, collected the money, and delivered the pictures. Appellant, which received a percentage of the receipts, took the pictures, processed them in North Carolina, and mailed the photographs to the Penney stores. Alabama imposes a license tax on a photographer for each county, town, or city where he operates. In the case of a photographer or a gallery "at a fixed location," the maximum tax is $25 per year in the largest cities. The tax is $5 per week for a transient photographer. Appellant sought declaratory relief in the Alabama courts, alleging that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution barred imposition of the transient photographer's tax on its activities. The lower court upheld the tax, and the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed.


1. Appellant was engaged in the essentially local activity of taking pictures. Appellant could constitutionally be made subject to local taxation for engaging in that local activity. Pp. 393 U. S. 539-541.

2. Alabama's tax does not discriminate against interstate commerce, since it is levied equally on interstate and intrastate transient photographers and, on the record here, the tax on out-of-state photographers is not so disproportionate to the tax on fixed-location photographers as to come within the condemnation of the Constitution. P. 393 U. S. 542.

282 Ala. 221, 210 So.2d 696, affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 393 U. S. 538

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