Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Supreme Court of the United States (4)

In Osborn v. United States Bank 9 Wheat. 738, it was held that a State had no power to tax one of the branches of the United States Bank; that the bank was one of the agencies and instrumentalities of the national Government, and as such was removed from the sphere of State taxation. From that decision has sprung the settled rule exempting all the agencies and instrumentalities of the national Government from State taxation except so far as permitted by Congress. This is seen in respect to United States bonds, national banks, etc. Conversely, though at a later date, in The Collector v. Day, 11 Wall. 113, decided December, 1870, it was held that Congress could not impose an income tax on the salaries paid to State officials. By these two decisions neither State nor nation can impair the efficiency of the necessary governmental action of the other.

Chief Justice Marshall was succeeded by Chief Justice Taney. As he and a majority of his associates had belonged to the 'strict construction school,' many prophesied a complete reversal of prior rulings, but the court still affirmed the nationality of the United States.

Thus in Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company, decided in 1849, 9 How. 647, and 1851, 13 How. 518, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was affirmed over a case brought by a State to restrain the obstruction of a navigable river within the limits of other States. In Abelman v. Booth, decided in 1858, 21 How.506, a prisoner in custody of the United States authorities was held not to be subject to discharge by State process. And in the famous 'Dred Scott Case,' decided in 1856, 19 How. 393, the nationality of the United States was asserted, though in a way not satisfactory to the friends of human freedom, in that it decided that the recognition by the Constitution of slave property carried with it the protection of that property in all the territories of the nation.

When the Civil War ended and Chief Justice Taney had been succeeded by Chief Justice Chase a new series of cases arose. Naturally bitter feelings were excited by the war, and stringent laws were passed by Congress and by some of the States against those who had participated in the rebellion. Test oaths were prescribed which prevented ministers and lawyers who had taken part with the South from pursuing their respective professions, but in Cummings v. Missouri, and ex parte Garland, decided in 1866, 4 Wall. 277 and 333, such test oaths were adjudged invalid as ex post facto acts. At the same time, in ex parte Milligan, 4 Wall. 2, it was held that a military tribunal, sitting in Indiana, a State in which there had been no rebellion, had no jurisdiction to punish a citizen, in no way connected with the army, for an offense against the Government. In Texas v. White, 7 Wall. 700, decided in 1868, it was held that States in rebellion did not lose their existence or identity, and in the opinion Chief Justice Chase made the memorable declaration that this was "an indestructible union composed of indestructible States."

Soon after the war the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution was adopted, which prohibited the States from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and from denying to any one the equal protection of the law. It was claimed by many that this operated to prevent the grant by a State of any special privileges, but in the Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall. 36 (1872), a charter given by the State of Louisiana, which secured to the corporation a monopoly of the butchering business within certain limits of New Orleans, was held to be valid, and thus the right of each State to determine for itself, in the grant of privileges, that which was best for its citizens was sustained. In 1890 came Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U.S., 100, in which it was held that the grant by the Federal Constitution to Congress of the power to regulate commerce between the States invalidated the legislation of one State which sought to prevent a citizen of another from selling and shipping liquors into it.

To be continued: Supreme Court (5)

Source of Information: From my Collection of Books: The New International Encyclopedia; 1902-1905 Dodd, Mead and Company-New York Total of 21 Volumes.

To contact:

No comments: