Dunbar-Stanley Studios, Inc. v. Alabama

PETITIONER: Dunbar-Stanley Studios, Inc.
LOCATION: Stanley's Home

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 393 US 537 (1969)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1969
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Dunbar-Stanley Studios, Inc. v. Alabama

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1969 in Dunbar-Stanley Studios, Inc. v. Alabama

J. Edward Thornton:

Now push the Drummer case.

This is the Drummer case, this was just different.

The Drummer case is the states have sought to license the solicitation of orders in the state out of this series of events.

This Court has unanimously so far as I recall held that you cannot split them up into solicitation and put the tax on that -- where there is this interstate activity throughout.

Abe Fortas:

Well it seems to me that the complicating factor here is that this could be regarded as a J.C. Penny operation.

J.C. Penny rounds up the children and does the selling and delivers the photographs after their maid, as I recall the facts here.

That’s correct.

Abe Fortas:

And that -- and in that sense it is different from the typical Drummer case.

J. Edward Thornton:


Abe Fortas:

And then you have these out of state photographers who come in and expose film and send the film out of state to be developed.

And they the film, then the photographs are sent back to J.C. Penny, so you have them.

Situation here that is a little complicated in the intermingling of intra and interstate aspects a little more than mingling than some of the others on that book.

J. Edward Thornton:

That’s true.

Now of course, response number one, this case doesn’t involve J.C. Penny as the court is aware, the assessment was made against us.

And in the appendix it’s pretty clear that the state was very anxious to see to it that no agency was developed between Penny and tax payer and this is true, there isn’t any agency.

But this is a slightly different case than the Drummer case as you say where he has no claim.

Abe Fortas:

Well the tax is not imposed on J.C. Penny, but the facts inevitably and inescapably involve J.C. Penny.

J. Edward Thornton:

Well, maybe Your Honor recalls the city case, which is before this Court and we went off on that point there and we don’t think we should have gone off on it.

But nevertheless, there they insisted that my suit for declaratory judgment to hold up this, fifty dollar a day license, which of course this is destructive.

I mean this stands we are gone, we can’t sell it up for $0.59 maybe pictures to make that kind of a license.

But there, after we got to court they met us by saying well you’re the wrong person and we said, no, you tried to put in jail and we are the ones that’s interested, we are the ones that’s going to pay it and this is not the J.C. Penny, it’s not quite like a leased section of a department store, where there, you know the department store will get an overall catch all license and then they will lease out various parts of the departments to.

But we are not quite that, we come and go, we come and go at Penny’s.

Abe Fortas:

You’re not quite, but somewhat.

J. Edward Thornton:

Well somewhat, yes that’s true, but now I would like to emphasize one thing, we deliberately do business this way.

That is to say we want a local business where a disgruntle customer or anyone like that has someone to go to.

We are not unaware of the fact that there has been criticism of transient photographers, just as there has been criticism of transient operators of any kind, where a man spends his money and can protect himself.

So we are very proud of our product, we think we have a good baby picture.

But we want the customer to know that he’s got someone with this sort of reputation that J.C. Penny has, that he can come to see about us and this is, we deliberately encourage that but we want to, because we think that’s good.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

Your case rests particularly on the fact on your claim, rests particularly on the fact that they cannot license you to do business.

Suppose they were simply taxing, imposing a tax on the part of the activity done in Alabama, would your argument be the same?