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SCHWARTZ v. O'HARA TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT (11/24/53)

November 24, 1953

SCHWARTZ, APPELLANT,
v.
O'HARA TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT



Appeal, No. 250, March T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1953, No. 300, in case of Robert Schwartz et al., v. O'Hara Township School District et al. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Roger P. Marquis, Washington, D.C., with him John W. McIlvaine, U.S. Attorney, Irwin A. Swiss and D. Malcolm Anderson, Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Arthur E. Ashton, Chief Attorney, Veterans Administration, for appellants.

D. S. Thomas, with him Campbell, Houck & Thomas, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 375 Pa. Page 442]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This is a class action in mandamus upon a case stated. The question of law involved is whether or not the minor children of school age residing on the grounds of the Veterans Administration Hospital (a Federal area) in O'Hara Township, Allegheny County, are entitled to free education in the public schools of the Township (a district of the third class) or in schools of other districts at the cost and expense of the Township School District. The learned court below denied the writ and the plaintiff has appealed.

The agreed-upon facts show the following. By Act of July 2, 1923, P.L. 987, 74 PS §§ 91, 92, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ceded exclusive jurisdiction of some 147 acres of land situate in O'Hara Township to the United States for the construction thereon of a veterans hospital under the control and supervision of the Veterans Administration. The only reservation to the Commonwealth was of concurrent jurisdiction within the ceded area for the service of civil process and of criminal process for crimes committed without the area. By Act of Congress of October 9, 1940, 54 Stat. 1059 (commonly known as the Buck Act), reenacted by codification July 30, 1947, 61 Stat. 641, 4 U.S.C. §§ 105, 106, the Federal Government restored to any State or any duly constituted local taxing authority the right to levy and collect sales and income taxes against the residents of Federal areas to the same extent and with the same effect as though such areas were not Federal property. By

[ 375 Pa. Page 443]

Act of June 25, 1947, P.L. 1145, as amended, 53 PS § 2015.1 et seq., the Pennsylvania legislature authorized various political subdivisions of the Commonwealth (including school districts of the third class) to levy and collect, inter alia, sales and income taxes so long as such type of tax was not imposed by the Commonwealth. At the time of the institution of this action, O'Hara Township School District had not levied either an income or a sales tax. Furthermore, the passage of the Pennsylvania Consumers Sales Tax Act of July 13, 1953, 72 PS § 3407-101 et seq., automatically precluded thenceforth the levy of a sales tax by a political subdivision of the State.

There are 189 persons in residence on the grounds of the Veterans Administration Hospital in O'Hara Township whose presence there is essential to the proper maintenance and operation of the establishment. Eight children of school age also reside on the hospital grounds. Contiguous to O'Hara Township is Aspinwall Borough, and children of the Township whose homes are closer to the schools of the Borough attend the Aspinwall schools, their tuition being paid by the O'Hara Township School District. The eight children residing on the hospital grounds attend the Aspinwall schools, but, to date, their tuition has been paid by their parents. O'Hara Township School District has refused either to admit such children to the schools of that District or to pay their tuition at the schools of Aspinwall Borough.

The well-reasoned and cogent opinions of the learned court below completely and correctly disposed of the plaintiff's contentions. Basically, it is the Buck Act which prompted the appellant's exertion in the premises. He fails, however, to point out wherein that Act was intended to, or did, ...


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