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railroad company;' while it is insisted that, upon the part of the State of California, such laws have been enacted as amount to a renunciation of State power in the premises. Without pausing at this point to consider whether, under our constitutional system of government, it is or would be competent to either the State or Federal Government to abdicate in favor of the other its rightful authority, constitutionally vested in it, over such a subject as this, so as to destroy the uniformity of the relations existing between the several States upon the one hand, and the Federal Government upon the other, we are of opinion that there is nothing to be found in the legislative enactments of this State which imports a renunciation upon its part of the sovereign power of taxation over the railroad and telegraph line in question. On the contrary, we find that in the statute of April 4, 1864 (Statutes 1863-4, p. 471), enacted for the purpose of enabling the railroad company to comply with and perform the provisions and conditions of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1862, it is distinctly provided as follows: "Said company to be subject to all the laws of this State concerning railroad and telegraph lines, except that messages and property of the United States, of this State, and of the said company, shall have priority of transportation and trans- 1 mission over said line of railroad and telegraph. The exception points out, and was obviously intended to point out, the only particulars in which the assent of the State there accorded to the provisions of the Act of Congress should change in any respect the conditions theretofore existing between the railroad corporation upon the one hand, and the State of California upon the other, and the ability to State taxation was not one of these. For these and many other reasons, which we need not here stop to enumerate, we are of opinion that the authority of the State to impose taxation upon the railroad and telegraph line, in common with all other subjects of taxation within its limits, is clear and unquestionable, and the objection of the defendant in that respect must be overruled.
Second—It is next objected that the revenue laws of the State are unconstitutional-null and void-as not being uniform in their operation, and in this connection Article I, Section 11, of the State Constitution, is cited in the following words: ‘All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation.'
“It is not denied that the mere taxation imposed by the revenue laws is equal and uniform, nor is it pretended that property is taxed otherwise than in pro
portion to its value; but it is said that although these cardinal constitutional rules are observed in the structure of the revenue laws of the State, yet there is a want of uniformity between the particular laws prevailing in several localities of the State in respect to the enforcement of the payment of delinquent taxes; that in some counties this payment is enforced by means of a levy upon the property of the delinquent, and a sale thereof made by the Tax Collector to the bidder who will pay the tax for the least amount of property, while in other counties an action at law, judgment, execution, and Sheriff's sale are resorted to; that where the sale is made by the Sheriff, under judgments rendered, the deed delivered to the purchaser is conclusive, while in case the sale be made by the Tax Collector, it is only prima facie evidence of title, etc.
“That the legislative power is restrained only by the limitations of the Constitution, clearly imposed upon its exercises, and that a statute enacted is not to be put aside by the Courts, unless its conflict with the fundamental law be manifest, are rules of familiar application. The deference we owe to the legislative will is only second to that which we owe to the commands of the Constitution, which both the Legislature and the Court are sworn to obey.
“The particular section of the Constitution supposed to have been infringed by the revenue law in force in the County of Placer concerns 'laws of a general nature,' and declares that such laws shall have a uniform operation. The Constitution, it will be observed, has not undertaken to declare that all laws shall have a uniform operation-uniformity in that respect is made requisite only in case the law itself be one of a general nature, and if it do not purport to be such an one, no objection as to uniformity or want of uniformity in its operation can be interposed. The nature of a given statute as being general or special must depend in a measure upon the legislative purpose discernible in its enactment. We are not to say that a statute, plainly special in its scope, must either have a uniform operation or not operate at all--for this wer to add another to the limitations which the Constitution has imposed upon the legislative power, and to hold in effect that no special Act could be passed at all, at least if 'uniform' operation means universal operation-as the argument of the defendant's counsel would apparently maintain. Nor are we to say that a special statute-special in its aim and in the object it has in view-is by mere construction to be converted into a general statute, because the general subject with which it deals might have been made the subject of a general law. It is obvious that every law upon a general subject is not per se, nor by constitutional intendment, necessarily a law of a general nature. The subject may be general, but the law and the rule it prescribes may be special. Fees of office, for instance, constitute a genera! subject-it is one which pervades the length and breadth of the State, and extends into every political subdivision of which it is composed-yet a statute may prescribe what these fees of office shall be in a particular county, and may declare that they shall differ from fees established for the same official duties performed in another county. Such a law would not be a law of a general nature, involving the constitutional necessity of uniform operation, but it would be a special law upon a general subject; and at an early period in our judicial history the constitutionality of such a statute was unhesitatingly sustained by this Court.-Ryan vs. Johnson, 5 Cal., p. 86. The legislation of the State has since then proceeded upon the assumed correctness of the construction given to the Constitution in that case. The views there announced have never since then been seriously questioned by any case in this Court to which our attention has been called, and as an exposition of the clause of the Constitution under consideration, in point of time almost contemporaneous with the adoption of the Constitution itself, and, ever since its enunciation, observed and followed in the legi-lative proceedings of the State, it must be considered as conclusive upon the point of constitutional law involved in this objection.
“ Third-It is claimed that the tax in question was illegally assessed, because not assessed by a County Assessor for Placer County-the point being that the record shows that the assessment of a portion of this road and telegraph line was made in Revenue District No. 1, by the Assessor of that district, and the assessment of the remainder of the road and telegraph line in Placer County was made in Revenue District No. 2, by the Assessor of that district. It is argued that such an officer as a District Assessor-at least of a district less in its territorial extent than an entire countyis unknown to the Constitution. That instrument (Art. XI, Sec. 13) provides as follows: 'Section 13. Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the State. All property in this State shall be taxed in proportion to
its value, to be ascertained as directed by law; but Assessors and Collectors of town, county, and State taxes shall be elected by the qualified electors of the district, county, or town in which the property taxed for State, county, or town purposes is situated.' It is obvious that the district' for which an Assessor is to be chosen is not necessarily coterminous with a single county, for a county being also named in the clause, the expression would become thereby merely tautological, and, so far, without the precision which is to be looked for in every word of the organic law. A county is one territorial division, expressly recognized by the Constitution for revenue purposes, in the clause already cited; a district is another, and these were obviously not intended to designate the same or an identical extent of territory. Obviously, a revenue district may be less in extent than a county, of which it is a part. There is nothing in the Constitution which expressly forbids it to be so, or presents a substantial difficulty in that construction of its several provisions.
“ Fourth-The fourth and last objection to be noticed is also rested upon Section 13, Article XI, of the Constitution, already recited. It is argued that the statute authorizing an action to be brought by the District Attorney, for the collection of taxes, is not warranted by this section of the Constitution—that if such an action is to be brought at all it must be brought by the Tax Collector. The action is brought not by the Tax Collector, nor by the District Attorney, but by the people of the State of California, and is conducted by their District Attorney for the County of Placer. The money sued for is claimed by the people as due to them for taxes delinquent and owing by the defendant to them. The office of District Attorney is one created by the Constitution (Article VI, Section 11), and the Legislature is therein required to fix by law his duties and his compensation. By the Act of April 29, 1851 (Hitt. General Laws, Sec. 2402), it is made the general duty of that officer to prosecute actions accruing to the State or his county; and by the Act of May 17, 1861 (Hitt. General Laws, Sec. 6188), it is especially made his duty to commence actions in the name of the people of the State of California for the recovery of delinquent taxes. This legislation is directly authorized by Sec. 11, Art. VI of the Constitution already referred to. It is the duty of the Tax Collector to receive taxes from those offering to pay them; and the law might have made it his duty to take steps to enforce their collec
tion when delinquent; but it has not done so in this instance, but has assigned that duty to the District Attorney; and we do not find in the Constitution that where the taxpayer has neglected and refused to pay the taxes, though due, the Legislature may not authorize judicial proceedings to be instituted, and may not, in case of such proceedings, direct the proper District Attorney to conduct them as other judicial proceedings in which the people are the party in interest. The right to bring the suit at all imports the duty to provide for its conduct by some officer or person competent for the discharge of that duty; and even if it be conceded that it is the general duty of the Collector to receive the taxes when offered by the taxpayer, and that it is not competent to the Legislature to authorize any other officer to perform that general duty, unless it first make such officer ex officio Tax Collector, we apprehend that when the Tax Collector has been defeated in the performance of that duty by the persistent refusal of the taxpayer, and has made his official return to that effect, his legal duties as Tax Collector may be said to have so far come to an end and been discharged by him as that judicial proceedings may be instituted to recover of the delinquent a sum of money equal to the delinquent tax, together with damages, percentage, costs, etc.
“We see nothing in this course, if pursued, which would amount to an interference with what is claimed to be the Constitutional duties of the Tax Collector, or a disturbance of any discernible scheme of county government to be found in the Constitution.
“The judgment and order denying a new trial must, therefore, be affirmed, and it is so ordered.
"WALLACE, C. J. We concur: