« ForrigeFortsett »
fifteen questions of law, which it was stated
*It appears from the opinion of the circuit judge that the various bills were dismissed on the grounds: First, that the jurisdiction of the circuit court could not "be maintained because the state court, in the exercise of its general jurisdiction, determined the eligibility of the defendant Florence to inherit an estate which that court was called upon to distribute under the laws of the state; and that "the other propositions contended for by complainants are for the same reason deemed insufficient to take this case out of the general rule that after a court of a state, with full jurisdiction over property in its possession, has finally determined all rights to that property, a court of the United States will not entertain jurisdiction to annul such decree and disturb rights once definitely determined."
Second, that the remedy of complainants, if any, was at law, and not in equity.
It averred that section 671 of the Civil Code of California, providing that "any person, whether citizen or alien, may take, hold, and dispose of property, real or personal, within this state;" and section 672, providing: “If The first ten of these questions a nonresident alien takes by succession, he set forth that the circuit court susmust appear and claim the property within tained the motion to dismiss for want of jufive years from the time of succession, or be risdiction to entertain the suit, and ordered barred;" were void as to aliens, because en- it to be dismissed accordingly. The remaincroachments upon the treaty-making powering five contained no statement as to their of the United States, and in conflict with sec- disposition. tion ten of article one of the Constitution of the United States, and with section 1978 of the Revised Statutes, and that therefore those courts were without jurisdiction; and also that when the state courts adjudged in favor of Florence because of Blythe's action under section 1387 of the Code, reading, "Every illegitimate child is an heir of any person who, in writing, signed in the presence of a competent witness, acknowledges himself to be the father of such child," that section was made to operate in favor of Florence outside of the geographical jurisdiction and boundaries of California, and, as thus applied, was in violation of section ten, article one, of the Federal Constitution, and of section 1978 of the Revised Statutes, and an invasion of the jurisdiction of international intercourse, wherefore the adjudication !505 was without *jurisdiction; and complainnts further said that sections 671, 672, and 1337 of the Code were in conflict with treaties between the United States and Russia, France, Switzerland, and England, and with the Constitution of the United States; and hence that the circuit court had jurisdiction "on the ground that the construction and application of the Federal Constitution are involved as well as on the ground of diverse citizenship of the parties, and because said section of said Civil Code violated the Federal Constitution as herein stated." On the same day, December 22, 1897, the final decree was entered in the case, the third para- We have heretofore determined that review graph of which was as follows: "That the by certificate is limited by the act of March original 'complaint' of the complainants, 3, 1891, to certificates by the circuit courts, John W. Blythe and Henry T. Blythe, filed made after final judgment, of a question in December 3d, 1895, and also the 'amended issue as to their own jurisdiction; and to complaint' of said complainants, filed Decem-certificates by the circuit courts of appeal of ber 12th, 1895, and also the 'second amended and supplemental bill in equity' of said complainants, filed January 14th, 1897, and also the complainants' third amended and supplemental bill, filed by leave of court this 22d of December, 1897, after the rendition of the decision of the court upon the matters determined herein, but before the signing of this decree, be, and the same are each hereby, finally dismissed as against each and all of the parties named therein respectively as defendants, and in all respects and in every particular, for want of either Federal or equity jurisdiction and without prejudice to complainants' right to bring or maintain an action at law."
Messrs. W. H. H. Hart, Frederick D. McKenney, Robert Y. Hayne, John Garber, and A. R. Cotton for appellees, in favor of motion to dismiss or affirm.
Messrs. S. W. Holladay, E. B. Holladay, Jefferson Chandler, and L. D. McKisick. for appellants in opposition to moticn.
*Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court:
questions of law in relation to which the ad-
Appeals or writs of error may be taken di-
From this decree John W. Blythe and The circuit court dismissed the bills on anHenry T. Blythe prayed an appeal to this other ground, namely, that the judgments of court, which was allowed and bond given the state courts could not be reviewed by that March 2, 1898, and on the same day the cir- court on the reasons put forward. This, also, cuit judge filed a certificate, certifying "to was not in itself a decision of want of juristhe Supreme Court of the United States pur-diction because the circuit court was a Fedsuant to the judiciary act of March 3, 1891," eral court, but a decision that the circuit 173 U. S.
U. S., Book 43.
JAMES NICOL, Appt.,
court was unable to grant relief because of the judgments rendered by those other courts. If we were to take jurisdiction on this JAMES AMES, United States Marshal, etc. certificate, we could only determine whether the circuit court had jurisdiction as a court of the United States, and as the decree rested on no denial of its jurisdiction as such, but
was rendered in the exercise of that jurisdic- Ex parte: In the Matter of GEORGE R. tion, it is obvious that this appeal cannot be maintained in that aspect.
Nor can we take jurisdiction on the ground that the case involved the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States, or that the validity or construcion of
a treaty was drawn in question, or that the JOHN C. AMES, United States Marshal, etc. Constitution or law of a state was claimed to
be in contravention of the Constitution of the
United States, within the meaning of the ju- CHARLES H. INGWERSEN, Plff. in Err., diciary act of March 3, 1891.
The circuit court by its decree passed on none of these matters, unless it might be said that they were indirectly involved in holding the judgments of the state courts to be a bar; and, moreover, the decree rested on the independent ground that the remedy was at law.
Even if the decree had been based solely on the binding force or the state judgments, still we cannot hold that an appeal directly to this court would lie.
The superior court of San Francisco was a court of general jurisdiction, and authorized to take original jurisdiction "of all matters of probate," and the bill averred that Thomas H. Blythe died a resident of the city and county of San Francisco and left an estate therein; and that court repeatedly decreed *that Florence was the heir of Thomas H.
Blythe, and its decrees were repeatedly affirmed by the supreme court of the state. So far as the construction of the state statutes and state Constitution in this behalf by the state courts was concerned, it was not the province of the circuit court to re-examine their conclusions. As to the question of the capacity of an alien to inherit, that was necessarily involved in the determination by the decrees that Florence did inherit,and that judgment covered the various objections in respect of section 1978 of the Revised Statutes, and the tenth section of article one of the Constitution of the United States, and any treaty relating to the subject.
We are not to be understood as intimating in the least degree that the provisions of the California Code amounted to an invasion of the treaty-making power, or were in conflict with the Constitution or laws of the United States, or any treaty with the United States; but it is enough for the present purpose that the state courts had concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts of the United States, to pass on the Federal questions thus intimated, for the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States are as much a part of the laws of every state as its own local laws and Constitution, and if the state courts erred in judgment, it was mere error, and not to be corrected through the medium of bills such as those under consideration.
(See S. C. Reporter's ed. 509-527.)
Wur revenue act-provisions of—said act legal-power of Congress-tax on certain sales, a duty or excise upon the privilegesales of merchandise at an exchange-uniformity of tax-written memorandum to be made sales at stock yards.
Under the act of June 13, 1898, to provide means to meet war expenditures, a member of a board of trade selling for immediate delivery products or merchandise without making a memorandum, or making a memorandum but omitting to put stamps on it, or making a sale for future delivery and falling to put stamps on the memorandum, with intent to evade the provisions of the act,-is guilty of a misdemeanor.
A seller at stock yards, delivering a memorandum but omitting to affix the stamps thereto, with like intent, is also guilty of a misde
Said act of June 13, 1898, is not illegal as imposing a direct tax, or because the same is not apportioned as required by the Constitution; or because the tax imposed is a stamp tax on documents not required by the state law to render the sale valid; or because Congress has no power to require a written memorandum to be made in order to place a stamp thereon.
In searching for proper subjects of taxation to raise moneys for the support of government, Congress has a right to recognize the manner in which the business of the country is transacted; and this court has the right to consider such facts without particular proof of them.
5. The tax is a duty or excise laid upon the privilege, opportunity, or facility offered at boards of trade or exchanges for the transaction of the business mentioned in the act, and is not a direct tax within the meaning of the Constitution.
A sale at an exchange forms a proper basis for classification which excludes sales made elsewhere from taxation; and the classification being proper and legal, there is that unlformity which the Constitution requires.
Nor is there a want of uniformity because the tax is imposed on those only who make such sales, and not on those who make purchases; and upon those who sell products 173 U. S.
or merchandise, and not those who sell bonds, | order made by the circuit court of the Unit
8. Congress has power to require the written
The statute covers sales made at union
stock yards; it is a "similar place" to an ex
change or board of trade within the meaning
of the statute.
[Nos. 435, 4 Original, 625, and 636.]
Argued and Submitted December 13, 14, 1898.
The first of the above-named cases is an ap
The second of said cases, No. 4 Original, is an application for leave to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to bring before the court the petitioner, George R. Nichols, who was convicted under said act of Congress for selling merchandise at said Board of Trade, and making and delivering a bill and memorandum of the sale without affixing the proper internal revenue stamps thereon. Petition for writ of habeas corpus denied.
The third of said cases, No. 625, is an ap; peal to this court from an order of the said circuit court of the United States discharging a writ of habeas corpus and remanding to custody the petitioner, Skillen, who was convicted for selling merchandise at said Board of Trade, and unlawfully failing and refusing to make and deliver to the buyer any bill or memorandum as required by said revenue act. Affirmed.
The last of said above cases, No. 636, is a writ of error to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to review a conviction of said Charles H. Ingwersen for making a sale of certain cattle at said stock yards and delivering the same without making any written memorandum, etc., as required by said revenue act. Affirmed.
The above cases were all considered together.
Statement by Mr. Justice Peckham:  *These cases involve the validity and construction of some of the provisions of section 6, and a portion of schedule "A," therein referred to, of the act of Congress approved June 13, 1898 (30 Stat. at L. 448), entitled "An Act to Provide Ways and Means to Meet War Expenditures, and for Other Purposes," commonly spoken of as the War Revenue Act. The cases come before the court in this way:
No. 435 is an appeal to this court from an
nois, upon an information duly filed charg
No. 4 Original is an application to this
an information filed in the district court of
the United States for the northern district
The circuit court having in both cases upheld the constitutionality of the present law, and having, in the case of James Nicol, denied a writ of habeas corpus, an application by George R. Nichols to that court would have been useless; hence, an application by him directly to this court is in accordance with its practice.
and detention were wholly without jurisdic- | 717; Ex parte Royall, 117 U. S. 248, 29 L.
No. 625 is also an appeal to this court
a memorandum of the kind mentioned in the
Messrs. Henry S. Robbins and John G. Carlisle, for appellant in No. 435 and No. 625, and for petitioner in No. 4 Original:
Habeas corpus is the proper remedy where the prisoner is in custody upon conviction for an offense created by an unconstitutional law.
Ex parte Siebold, 100 U. S. 371, 25 L. ed.
Ex parte Terry, 128 U. S. 289, 32 L. ed. 405; Sawyer's Case, 124 U. S. 200, 31 L. ed. 402; Ex parte Bain, 121 U. S. 1, 30 L. ed. 849; Re Tyler, 149 U. S. 164, 37 L. ed. 689; Re Ayers, 123 U. S. 443, 31 L. ed. 216.
The tax in question, if an indirect tax, is a stamp tax upon documents. It is not a privilege tax. A commercial exchange is a voluntary association (the Chicago Board of Trade, although incorporated, has been decided to be such-Chicago Bd. of Trade v. Nelson, 162 Ill. 431), and neither the privilege of being a member of the exchange nor of having one's property sold there, nor of being a seller there, is a privilege in the legal sense that is a taxable privilege.
Columbia v. Guest, 3 Head, 414; Cooley, Taxation, 2d ed. 571; Charleston v. Oliver, 16 S. C. 47.
Nor is this an occupation tax-such tax being imposed elsewhere in this act upon brokers, and the law not presuming double taxation.
Cooley, Taxation, 227; Montgomery Coun ty Bd. of Revenue v. Montgomery Gaslight Co. 64 Ala. 273.
Nor is it a tax on sales, which would in reality be a tax on the commodity sold.
Cook v. Pennsylvania, 97 U. S. 566, 24 L ed. 1015; Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419, 6 L. ed. 678.
For agreements to sell for future delivery are taxed, and in these there is usually no commodity to tax, such contracts, although generally settled by the payment of differ ences, being legal (Bibb v. Allen, 149 U. S. 499, 37 L. ed. 827; Miles v. Andrews, 40 Ill. App. 155), and, whether legal or not, would be taxable.
License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 463, 18 L. ed. 497. Almy v. California, 24 How. 169, 16 L. ed. 644, as construed by Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall. 123, 19 L. ed. 382, is not in conflict with the proposition that this is a stamp tax only.
Congress is without constitutional power to require written memoranda of intrastate contracts or transactions. This act, by imposing a penalty and creating a misdemeanor, prohibits oral sales or contracts of sales, and thereby interferes with intrastate commerce-this regardless of whether it makes the sale void or not.
Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 433, 6 L. ed. 683.
Congress cannot regulate intrastate commerce.
United States v. De Witt, 9 Wall. 44, 19 L. ed. 594; Lane County v. Oregon, 7 Wall. 76, 19 L. ed. 74. 173 U. S.
Nor can it do this as a "necessary and proper" means of levying taxes.
"Necessary and proper", under sub-clause 18, § 8, of the Constitutiou, authorizes only such laws as are (1) "appropriate and plainly adapted" to the levying of the tax, and (2) "consist with the spirit of the Constitution."
McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 4 L. ed. 579; Legal Tender Cases, 12 Wall. 457, 20 L. ed. 287.
But the only purpose of requiring written memoranda is to increase the number of such documents to be taxed, which is not a proper incident to the taxing power.
United States v. DeWitt, 9 Wall. 42, 19 L. ed. 593; License Tax Cases, 5 Wall. 463, 18 L. ed. 497.
Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 635, 29 L. ed. 753; Monongahela Nav. Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 325, 37 L. ed. 468; Oakley v. Aspinwall, 3 N. Y. 547.
This tax, if a stamp or other indirect tax, violates the rule of uniformity.
The Constitution requires, not merely "geographical uniformity," but practical uniformity between taxpayers, which means, not that all persons or all property must be taxed, if any are, but that all persons similarly situated, and all property of the same kind, be proportionately taxed, if any such person or property is taxed.
This construction is required by the state of history and political economy at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, as well as by the circumstances attending the insertion of this uniformity clause in the Constitution.
Congressional interference with state commerce, in whatever form or degree, is to be as much condemned as has been state interference, in whatever form or degree, with in-stroy. terstate or foreign commerce.
Henderson v. New York, 92 U. S. 271, 23 L. ed. 549; Webber v. Virginia, 103 U. S. 350, 26 L. ed. 567; Pickard v. Pullman Southern Car Co. 117 U. S. 35, 29 L. ed. 786; Robbins v. Shelby County Taxing Dist. 120 U. S. 489, 30 L. ed. 694, 1 Inters. Com. Rep. 45; Moran v. New Orleans, 112 U. S. 69, 28 L. ed. 653; Leloup v. Port of Mobile, 127 U. S. 641, 32 L. ed. 312, 2 Inters. Com. Rep. 134; Almy v. California, 24 How. 169, 16 L. ed. 644; Guy v. Baltimore, 100 U. S. 434, 25 L. ed. 743.
This interference with oral contracts within the state does not "consist with the spirit of the Constitution."
Moore v. Moore, 47 N. Y. 467, 7 Am. Rep. 466; Sammons v. Halloway, 21 Mich. 163, 4 Am. Rep. 465; Craig v. Dimock, 47 Ill. 310; Davis v. Richardson, 45 Miss. 500, 7 Am. Rep. 732; Forcheimer v. Holly, 14 Fla. 243; Sporrer v. Eifler, 1 Heisk. 633; Duffy v. Hobson, 40 Cal. 240, 6 Am. Rep. 617; Carpenter v. Snelling, 97 Mass. 452.
Such legislation, if independent of a tax law, would be class legislation, because depriving some, but not all, of the right to contract orally.
Millett v. People, 117 Ill. 298, 57 Am. Rep. 869; Harding v. People, 160 Ill. 459, 32 L. R. A. 445; Frorer v. People, 141 Ill. 171, 16 L. R. A. 492; State v. Goodwill, 33 W. Va. 179, 6 L. R. A. 621; Godcharles v. Wigeman, 113 Pa. 431; Kuhn v. Detroit, 70 Mich. 537; Re Jacobs, 98 N. Y. 98, 50 Am. Rep. 636; Butchers' Union S. H. & L. S. L. Co. v. Crescent City L. S. L. & S. H. Co. 111 U. S. 746, 28 L. ed. 585; Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U. S. 27, 28 L. ed. 923; Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 30 L. ed. 220.
If the right to thus discriminate respecting oral contracts be sustainable at all, it can only be when it is necessary to taxation, and not where, as here, it is neither necessary nor usual. In the latter case it is clearly contrary to the "spirit of the Constitution." It takes from a taxpayer, as a part of his tax, his constitutional right to contract or trade orally as others do.
A liberal construction is to be resorted to for the protection of constitutional rights.
The power to tax implies the power to de
McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 431, 4 L. ed. 607; Weston v. Charleston, 2 Pet. 449, 7 L. ed. 481; Citizens' Sav. & L. Asso. v. Topeka, 20 Wall. 655, 22 L. ed. 455.
Uniformity has been defined as above by this court in
United States v. Singer, 15 Wall. 111, 21 L. ed. 49; Head Money Cases, 112 U. S. 580, 28 L. ed. 798.
This rule of taxation requires an essential difference between the subjects taxed and those untaxed.
Pacific Exp. Co. v. Siebert, 142 U. S. 339, 35 L. ed. 1035, 3 Inters. Com. Rep. 810; Senior v. Ratterman, 44 Ohio St. 661.
This does not arise from the mere difference of locality of a sale of the thing taxed, nor from greater convenience attending the making of such sale.
Messrs. John S. Miller and Merritt Starr, for plaintiff in error in No. 636:
The words "at any exchange or board of trade or other similar place," in Schedule A of the act in question, refer to the place of sale; and they mean the room or floor or place provided by associations of that kind for trading among their members, and to the privileges of which only members are admitted. And the tax levied is only upon sales at those places.
This is a fact of common knowledge, and appears in adjudged cases and works of standard authority; and it must be held to have been known to and in contemplation of Congress in passing the act in question. It appears in the following, among other, authorities:
Dos Passos, Stock Brokers, 88, 208; Melsheimer & Laurence Stock Exchange, 1, 2; Bisbee & Simons, Produce Exchange, 71; Speight v. Gaunt, L. R. 22 Ch. Div. 727; Leech v. Harris, 2 Brewst. (Pa.) 575; Metropolitan Grain & Stock Exchange v. Chicaga Bd. of Trade, 15 Fed. Rep. 849.
The words "or similar place" in Schedule A of the act do not bring within the tax but exclude therefrom, sales at any different place.
Harlow v. Tufts, 4 Cush. 453.
The Union Stock Yards in Chicago, or its pens, in one of which the sale in question