Rohr Aircraft Corporation v. County of San Diego

PETITIONER: Rohr Aircraft Corporation
RESPONDENT: County of San Diego
LOCATION: Federal Reformatory for Women in West Virginia

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 362 US 628 (1960)
ARGUED: Mar 30, 1960
DECIDED: May 23, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Rohr Aircraft Corporation v. County of San Diego

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 30, 1960 in Rohr Aircraft Corporation v. County of San Diego

Earl Warren:

Number 295, Rohr Aircraft Corporation, a California Corporation, Appellant, versus County of San Diego and City of Chula Vista.

Mr. Wright.

Leroy A. Wright:

Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court.

This case involves an area of intergovernmental tax immunity and submission through taxation which is not heretofore been determined by this Court.

Briefly, the salient facts are, in 1942 and 1943, the Defense Plant Corporation, a subsidiary of RFC acquired and improved certain property in the San Diego County.

That property was leased to a war contractor, the predecessor of this appellant.

It was used during the war and the manufacture of war material.On October 15th of 1945, the lessee contractor terminated the links.

On May 29th, 1946, Reconstruction Finance Corporation declared the property surplus under the provisions of the Surplus Property Act of 1944.

From 1947 to 1948, the property was taken over by War Assets Administration.

It was actually used, as appears from testimony, herein the record at page 45.

It was actually used by the United States as a depot for the storage and sale of surplus war material.

The former lessee had vacated the property.

In 1948, there commenced an interim occupancy by the former lessee who owned property immediately adjacent to the area.

This interim occupancy resulted in the lease of September 1, 1949.

This lease is set forth in the record and appears -- commencing at page 9.

The lease required the lessee to pay taxes that were roughly assessed against the premises or against the lessor or lessee.

Now, let us go back for a moment.

Here is government property admittedly owned by a governmental agency, the Defense Plant Corporation, a subsidiary of RFC.

This being so, how come any taxes?

In 1932 with the enactment of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation Act, the Congress concerted a provision which it drew from the old National Bank Act, first enacted in 18th -- in the 19th century.

Under which, real property of the Corporation or was subjected to tax to the same extent as any other property was taxed and expressed waiver applicable to real property of the Corporation.

Therein lay the basis for the tax.

In the interim however by the enactment of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, mechanics were created by which an owning agency defined in the acts in terms to encompass RFC would declare that the -- the property was surplus to its needs and would execute a declaration of surplus property which would be transmitted to the War Assets Administration.

The War Assets Administration would then have the responsibility for the control, management, maintenance with all of the various attributes which the Surplus Property Act gave to the United States as a result of the declaration.

The provisions of the Surplus Property Act insofar as here applicable are contained in Appendix A to appellant's opening brief at pages 1 to 8 and regulations which were issued thereunder are further contained in the that appendix.

The case thus involves the question of whether or not the failure of RFC to execute a deed to the property at the time that it issued its declaration of the surplus to its needs.

The failure of RFC to execute that deed --

Felix Frankfurter:

A deed --

Leroy A. Wright:

-- still --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- a deed from RFC?