WHYY, Inc. v. Borough of Glassboro

RESPONDENT: Borough of Glassboro
LOCATION: Metropolitan Dade County Justice Building

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 393 US 117 (1968)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1968
DECIDED: Nov 12, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for WHYY, Inc. v. Borough of Glassboro

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1968 in WHYY, Inc. v. Borough of Glassboro

Earl Warren:

Number 10, WHYY, Inc., Appellant versus Borough of Glassboro, et al.

Mr. Marsh.

James M. Marsh:

May it please the Court.

This is an appeal from the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

It presents a single clear issue of constitutional law, which is whether or not a state can permit its municipalities to tax certain property used within New Jersey by a foreign, nonprofit corporation which has qualified and based in New Jersey, and at the same time, permit them to exempt from taxation same type of property when used by a New Jersey nonprofit corporation.

We believe of course that is denial of equal protection as that term is now applied by this Court over the years.

Now the appellant here WHYY was one brought under Pennsylvania law in 1952.

It's also license by the Federal Communications Commission for the transmission of noncommercial radio and TV programs.

It is subject to great many restrictions by both the state and the FCC.

It is not permitted to sell time, it is not permitted to accept advertising, it cannot engage in any activity which inures profit to any corporation or person, it's not permitted to pay dividends.

The property involved in this case is the only property which, WHYY has in New Jersey.

As a site where there is a tower for transmission of television programs on the Channel 12, the site must be personally involved is what lead to this case.

All the programs in WHYY from Channel 12 are educational, cultural or recreational.

They broadcast daily for the benefit of schools in a number of school district in the three or four states involved including a number in New Jersey.

They have other programs in evenings and on Saturdays.

The population of the area reached by Channel 12 was about 8 million people and the record shows that about 29.5% are located in New Jersey.

Now at pages 47 to 67 there is a detailed statement as to a nature WHYY activities, his background and the restrictions imposed upon, this was put in the record of the request on the Supreme Court of New Jersey before argument in that court.

In the last two pages list programs which were geared strictly to New Jersey people with -- to show the court what benefits were confertly in census in New Jersey.

That statement also shows that WHYY has supported completely by grants and donations from the federal state and local governments, by appellant from school district, by grants from foundations, by donations from corporations and by general public, all these donations are tax deductible.

The grantors of WHYY who are unpaid they are either public officials in the states involved where they are civic leaders.

WHYY is exempt from federal state and local tax as except to this particularly tax and a few tax they paid because they were de minimis.

Now all the broadcast and all the services performed by WHYY are supported by the source that I mentioned.

They have no sales of advertising.

They have no commercials.

This is a -- which you might call 100% two-way charity operation, everything is given to WHYY for nothing and everything we do is done for nothing.

And on this circumstance it's obvious that it is very important that we receive every proper economic advantage so that this station can survive.

Tax involved in this case are substantial, excuse me, at least they are substantial to WHYY.

The assessed valuation of the property which the state seeks to tax is $113,000.00.

There are four years involved in this case.

This case involved only 1964 but this result will govern 1965, 1966, and 1967.