« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the meaning of the federal constitution; and such is the doctrine laid down by the supreme court of the United States, 15 Wall. 293. * * Third. This tax cannot be regarded as a duty or impost levied by the state on imports. To give such a construction to it, and to recognize the alleged prohibition contended for, would create an exemption for all goods and merchandise and property of every kind and description brought into the state for sale or use, and by such construction destroy a main source of revenue to the state. As we had occasion to show in the case referred to, the word 'imports' used in the constitution has been construed to apply, not to property brought or imported from other states of the Union, but solely to imports from foreign countries. Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall. 122; 5 Wall. 479. * In approaching the consideration of the case we will first take up the last objection raised by the plaintiff in error, namely, that the tax was a duty on imports and exports. It was decided by this court in the case of Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall. 123, that the term "imports" as used in that clause of the constitution which declares that "no state shall, without the consent of congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports," does not refer to articles carried from one state into another, but only to articles imported from foreign countries into the United States. In that case the city of Mobile had by ordinance, passed in pursuance of its charter, authorized the collection of a tax on real and personal estate, sales at auction, and sales of merchandise, capital employed in business, and income within the city. Woodruff and others were auctioneers, and were taxed under this ordinance for sales at auction made by them, including sales of goods, the product of other states than Alabama, received by them as consignees and agents, and sold in the original and unbroken packages; but as the ordinance made no discrimination between sales at auction of goods produced in Alabama and goods produced in other states, the court held that the tax was not unconstitutional. A contrary result must have been reached under the ruling in Brown v. Maryland, 12 Wheat. 449, if the constitutional prohibition referred to had been held to include imports from other states as well as imports from foreign countries; for, at the time the tax was laid, the condition of the goods, in reference to their introduction into the state, was precisely the same in one case as in the other. This court, however, after an elaborate examination of the question, held that the terms “imports” and “exports" in the clause under consideration had reference to goods brought from or carried to foreign countries alone, and not to goods transported from one state to another.
It is unnecessary, therefore, to consider further the question raised by the plaintiffs in error under their third assignment of errors so set forth, as it is based on the assumption that the tax complained of was an impost or duty on imports. The other assumption made under that assignment, that some of the coal was afterwards exported, and that the tax complained of was therefore pro tanto a duty on exports, is equally untenable. When the petition was filed the coal was lying in New Orleans, in the hands of Brown & Jones, for sale. The petition states this in so many words, and Rootes testifies the same thing, and adds that it was to be sold by the flat-boat load. He also adds that at the time of his examination more than half of it had been exported to foreign countries; but he probably means that it had been sold to steamers sailing to foreign ports for use on the same, and had only been exported in that way. The complainants were not exporters; they did not hold the coal at New Orleans for exportation, but for sale there. Being in New Orleans, and held there on sale, without reference to the destination or use which the purchasers might wish to make of it, it was taxed in the hands of the owners, (or their agents,) like all other property in the city, six mills on the dollar. Ìf, after this, and after being sold, the purchaser thought proper to put it on
133 La. Ann. 844
board of a steamer bound to foreign parts, that did not alter the character of the taxation so as to convert it froin a general tax to a duty on exports. When taxed it was not held with the intent or for the purpose of exportation, but with the intent and for the purpose of sale there, in New Orleans. duty on exports must either be a duty levied on goods as a condition, or by reason of their exportation, or, at least, a direct tax or duty on goods which are intended for exportation. Whether the last would be a duty on exports, it is not necessary to determine. But certainly, where a general tax is laidg on all property alike, it cannot be construed as a duty on exports when fall-ing upon goods not then intended for exportation, though they should happen to be exported afterwards. This is the most that can be said of the goods in question, and we are therefore of opinion that the tax was not a duty on exports any more than it was a duty on imports, within a meaning of those terms in the clause under consideration.
But in holding, with the decision in Woodruff v. Parham, that goods carried from one state to another are not imports or exports within the meaning of the clause which prohibits a state from laying any impost or duty on imports or exports, we do not mean to be understood as holding that a state may levy import or export duties on goods imported from or exported to another state. We only mean to say that the clause in question does not prohibit it. Whether the laying of such duties by a state would not violate some other provision of the constitution,-that, for example, which gives to congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with the Indian tribes,—is a different quest o 1. This brings us to the consideration of the second assignment of error, which is founded on the clause referred to.
The power to regulate commerce among the several states is granted to congress in terms as absolute as is the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. If not in all respects an exclusive power; if, in the absence of congressional action, the states may continue to regulate matters of local interest only incidentally affecting foreign and interstate commerce, such as pilots, wharves, harbors, roads, bridges, tolls, freights, etc.,-still, according to the rule laid down in Cooley v. Board of Wardens of Philadelphia, 12 How. 319, the power of congress is exclusive wherever the matter is national in its character, or admits of one uniform system or plan of regulation; and is certainly so far exclusive that no state has power to make any law or regulation which will affect the free and unrestrained intercourse and trade between the states, as congress has left it, or which will impose any discriminating burden or tax upon the citizens or products of other states, coming or brought within its jurisdiction. All laws and regulations are restrictive of natural freedom to some extent, and where no regulation is imposed by the government, which has the exclusive power to regulate, it is an indication of its will that the matter shall be left free. So long as congress does not pass any law to regulate commerce among the several states, it thereby indicates its will that that commerce shall be free and untrammeled; and any regulation of the subject by the states is repugnant to such freedom. This has frequently been laid down as law in the judgments of this court. In Welton v. State of Missouri, 91 U. S. 282, Mr. Justice FIELD, speaking for the court, said: "The fact that congress has not seen fit to prescribe any specific rules to govern interstate commerce does not affect the question. Its inaction on this subject, when considered with reference to its legislation with respect to foreign commerce, is equivalent to a declaration that interstate commerce shall be free and untrammeled." This was said in a case where plaintiff in error had been convicted of selling goods without a license under a law of the state of Missouri, which prohibited any person from dealing as a peddler without license, and which declared that a peddler was one dealing in goods or wares "not the growth, produce, or manufacture of this state, [Missouri,] by
going from place to place to sell the same." To the same purport, and on the same subject generally, see Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 209; License Cases, 5 How. 575, 592, 594, 600, 605; Passenger Cases, 7 How. 407, 414, 419, 445, 462-464; Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, 41-49; Paul v. Virginia, 8 Wall. 168, 182-184; Ward v. Maryland, 12 Wall. 418, 430, 431; State Tax on Railway Receipts, 15 Wall. 293; The Lottawanna, 21 Wall. 581; Henderson v. Mayor of N. Y. 92 U. S. 259; Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U. S. 99; Railroad Co. v. Husen, 95 U. S. 465; Cook v. Pennsylvania, 97 U. S. 566; Guy v. Baltimore, 100 U. S. 434; Tiernan v. Rinker, 102 U. S. 123; Packet Co. v. Catlettsburg, 105 U. S. 559; Transportation Co. v. Parkersburg, 107 U. S. 701; S. C. 2 SUP. Cт. REP. 732; and see Moran v. New Orleans, 112 U. S. 69; S. C., ante, 38.
In the case of Railroad Co. v. Husen, 95 U. S. 469, in which another law of the state of Missouri came up for consideration, which declared that no Texas, Mexican, or Indian cattle should be driven or otherwise conveyed into the state, between the first of May and first of November, unless carried through the state in cars, without being unloaded, this court, through Mr. Justice STRONG, said: "It seems hardly necessary to argue at length that, unless the statute can be justified as a legitimate exercise of the police power of the state, it is a usurpation of the power vested exclusively in congress. It is a plain regulation of interstate commerce, a regulation extending to prohibition. Whatever may be the power of a state over commerce that is completely internal, it can no more prohibit or regulate that which is interstate than it can that which is with foreign nations." In short, it may be laid down as the settled doctrine of this court, at this day, that a state can no more regulate or impede commerce among the several states than it can regulate or impede commerce with foreign nations.
This being the recognized law, the question then arises whether the assessment of the tax in question amounted to any interference with, or restriction upon, the free introduction of the plaintiffs' coal from the state of Pennsylvania into the state of Louisiana, and the free disposal of the same in commerce in the latter state; in other words, whether the tax amounted to a regulation of, or restriction upon, commerce among the states, or only to an exercise of local administration under the general taxing power, which, though it may incidentally affect the subjects of commerce, is entirely within the power of the state until congress shall see fit to interfere and make express regulations on the subject.
As to the character and mode of the assessment, little need be added to what has already been said. It was not a tax imposed upon the coal as a foreign product, or as the product of another state than Louisiana, nor a tax imposed by reason of the coal being imported or brought into Louisiana, nor a tax imposed while it was in a state of transit through that state to some other place of destination. It was imposed after the coal had arrived at its destination and was put up for sale. The coal had come to its place of rest, for final disposal or use, and was a commodity in the market of New Orleans. It might continue in that condition for a year or two years, or only for a day. It had become a part of the general mass of property in the state, and as such it was taxed for the current year, (1880,) as all other property in the city of New Orleans was taxed. Under the law, it could not be taxed again until the following year. It was subjected to no discrimination in favor of goods which were the product of Louisiana, or goods which were the property of citizens of Louisiana. It was treated in exactly the same manner as such goods were treated.
It cannot be seriously contended, at least in the absence of any congressional legislation to the contrary, that all goods which are the product of other states are to be free from taxation in the state to which they may be carried for use or sale. Take the city of New York, for example. When the as
sessor of taxes goes his round, must he omit from his list of taxables all goods which have come into the city from the factories of New England and New Jersey, or from the pastures and grain-fields of the West? If he must, what will be left for taxation? And how is he to distinguish between those goods which are taxable and those which are not? With the exception of goods imported from foreign countries, still in the original packages, and goods in transit to some other place, why may he not assess all property alike that may be found in the city, being there for the purpose of remaining there till used or sold, and constituting part of the great mass of its commercial capital: provided always that the assessment will be a general one, and made without discrimination between goods the product of New York, and goods the product of other states? Of course the assessment should be a general one, and not discriminative between goods of different states. The taxing of goods coming from other states, as such, or by reason of their so coming, would be a discriminating tax against them as imports, and would be a regulation of interstate commerce, inconsistent with that perfect freedom of trade which congress has seen fit should remain undisturbed. But if, after their arrival in the state,-that being their place of destination for use or trade,—if, after, this, they are subjected to a general tax laid alike on all property within the city, we fail to see how such a taxing can be deemed a regulation of commerce which would have the objectionable effect referred to.
We do not mean to say that if a tax collector should be stationed at every ferry and railroad depot in the city of New York, charged with the duty of collecting a tax on every wagon-load or car-load of produce and merchandise brought into the city, that it would not be a regulation of, and restraint upon, interstate commerce, so far as the tax should be imposed on articles brought from other states. We think it would be, and that it would be an encroachment upon the exclusive powers of congress. It would be very different from the tax laid on auction sales of all property indiscriminately, as in the case of Woodruff v. Parham, which had no relation to the movement of goods from one state to another. It would be very different from a tax laid, as in the present case, on property which had reached its destination, and had become part of the general mass of property of the city, and which was only taxed as a part of that general mass in common with all other property in the city, and in precisely the same manner.
When congress shall see fit to make a regulation on the subject of property transported from one state to another, which may have the effect to give it a temporary exemption from taxation in the state to which it is transported, it will be time enough to consider any conflict that may arise between such regulation and the general taxing laws of the state. In the present case we see no such conflict, either in the law itself or in the proceedings which have been had under it and sustained by the state tribunals, nor any conflict with the general rule that a state cannot pass a law which shall interfere with the unrestricted freedom of commerce between the states. In our opinion, therefore, the second assignment of error is untenable.
The only remaining assignment of error to be considered is that the tax in question violated that clause of the fourth article of the constitution which declares that "the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." As the applicability of this objection did not occur to us upon reading the record of the case, we have carefully examined the brief of the plaintiffs' counsel for light on the subject, but so far as we can understand the point is not urged. We are certainly unable to see how, or in what respect, any equality of privileges as citizens has been denied to the plaintiffs by the imposition of the tax. Their property was only taxed like that of all other persons, whether citizens of Louisiana or of any other state or country. Not the slightest discrimination was made. The judgment of the supreme court of Louisiana is affirmed.
(114 U. S. 663)
THE TENNESSEE BOND CASES.
STEVENS v. THE RAILROAD COMPANIES. (17 Cases.)
For majority opinion, see ante, 974.
HARLAN, J., dissenting. I am of opinion that, while the object of the statutes in question was to protect the state against liability, they were, also, designed to create a lien for the payment of the bonds themselves, by whomsoever held. That lien, so far as the holders of bonds were concerned, could not be discharged, except by payment of the interest and principal, according to the terms of the bonds, and in the mode prescribed by the statute under which they were issued. For these reasons, I am compelled to withhold my assent to the opinion and judgment.
(114 U. S. 453)
EDMONDS and another, Com'rs, etc., v. BALTIMORE & P. R. Co.
(April 20, 1885.)
1. RAILROAD-RIGHT OF WAY-TRACKS IN CITY OF WASHINGTON-Power of CONGRESS -EFFECT OF 14 ST. 389-ACT FEBRUARY 5, 1867.
The provision of the original act, under which the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad enters the city of Washington, D. C., (14 St. 389,) has never been repealed, and it fully asserts the purpose of congress to retain in its own hands the right to the use of the streets of the city in regard to that company and its road, as it has in regard to all others.
2. SAME-ERECTION OF DEPOT INCIDENTAL RIGHT-TRACK LAYING.
The right of a railroad company to erect a depot or warehouse in a certain locality does not have as an incident the right to lay tracks communicating therewith on the streets of Washington without the express permission of congress.
3. SAME-EFfect of Chapter 18, Rev. ST. D. C.-CORPORATIONS CREATED BY LAWS OF THE SEVERAL STATES.
The power conferred by the Revised Statutes of the District of Columbia, chapter 18, concerning corporations, was designed only for corporations organized under it. and are not conferred upon corporations created by states of the Union, governed by the laws of those states.
SAME-POWER OF CONGRESS, HOW AFFECTED BY CHAPTER 18, REV. Sr. D. C.
Chapter 18 of the Revised Statutes of the District of Columbia shows on its face that congress never intended to part with the right to designate the route of a railroad through the city, and on what streets its track should be located, and which streets it should use.
Appeal from the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.
A. G. Riddle, for appellants. Enoch Totten, for appellee.
MILLER, J. This is an appeal from the supreme court of the District of Columbia. The railroad company has constructed its road from Baltimore, through the District of Columbia and through the city of Washington, to the Potomac river at Long Bridge, on which it crosses that river to the Virginia side. It has done this by virtue of several acts of congress granting the necessary authority to do so. At the Washington end of the bridge it has purchased and now owns one of the squares of the city and part of another, numbered, in the division of the city into streets, squares, and lots, squares 233, and 267. These squares are divided by Fourteenth street, running north and south, and square 267, on its south side, abuts on Maryland avenue, one of the streets of the city. At the junction of Maryland avenue, whose course is nearly east and west, and Fourteenth street, there is a considerable space of ground made by Water street, which follows the bank of the river, and the other two streets, which is a public highway made by the union of all three streets at that point. A map or diagram found in the record, and which the reporter will copy, is necessary to a clear understanding of the controversy.