Ernest Franceschi, Jr. v. John Chiang

FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT ERNEST JOSEPH FRANCESCHI, JR., No. 14-56493 Attorney, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellant, D.C. No. 2:14-cv-01960- v. CAS-SH BETTY T. YEE, President of California Franchise Tax Board in OPINION her Official Capacity; GEORGE RUNNER, Board Member of California Franchise Tax Board in his Official Capacity; JEAN SHIOMOTO, Director of California Department of Motor Vehicles in her Official Capacity; MICHAEL COHEN, Board Member of California Franchise Tax Board in his Official Capacity, Defendants-Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Christina A. Snyder, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted November 15, 2017 Pasadena, California Filed April 11, 2018 2 FRANCESCHI V. YEE Before: Michael Daly Hawkins, Barrington D. Parker,* and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Parker SUMMARY** Tax The panel affirmed the district court’s judgment in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the constitutionality of California Revenue and Tax Code § 19195 (which establishes a public list of the top 500 delinquent state taxpayers) and California Business and Professions Code § 494.5 (which provides for suspension of the driver’s license of anyone on the top 500 list). The district court found the statutory scheme constitutional and dismissed the action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The panel first held that the taxpayer was not deprived of procedural due process based on his contention that he had an inadequate opportunity to be heard prior to license revocation. The panel explained that California provides tax delinquents with a constitutionally adequate procedure to challenge the amount of their tax delinquency, either before or after the deprivation of a driver’s license. * The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sitting by designation. ** This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. FRANCESCHI V. YEE 3 The panel next held that the taxpayer was not deprived of substantive due process based on his claims that the statutory scheme impermissibly burdened taxpayer’s right to choose a profession, and that the scheme is retroactive. The panel observed that revocation of a driver’s license does not operate as a complete prohibition on one’s ability to practice law. The panel also explained that § 494.5 does not operate retroactively because it does not sanction taxpayer for past conduct, but for his current refusal to discharge his tax obligations. The panel was unpersuaded by the taxpayer’s equal protection claim, that the challenged statutes impermissibly single out taxpayers who fall within the class of California’s 500 largest tax delinquents, resulting in unequal treatment of similarly situated individuals. The panel found a rational basis for state action against a citizen for failing to pay two years’ worth of past-due taxes (as taxpayer had done), given California’s legitimate and significant interest in the prompt collection of tax revenue. Finally, the panel rejected the taxpayer’s contention that ...

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