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to submit the same to the board of valuation and assessment; which board is to fix the value of the spirits for the purpose of taxation under the act and to assess the same accordingly. Notice is required to be given to the owner or proprietor of the warehouse of the amount so fixed, and certify the value of the spirits assessed for said taxes to the auditor of public accounts, and that officer certifies to the county clerks of the respective counties the amount liable for county, city, town or district taxation, and the date when the bonded period will expire. The report is filed in the office of the county clerk and certified to the proper collecting officer. The person or corporation having custody of the spirits on the fifteenth of September in the year the assessment is made is made liable for the taxes "due thereon, together with all interest and penalties which may accrue; and any warehouseman or custodian of such spirits, who shall pay the taxes, interest or penalties on such spirits, shall have a lien thereon for the amount so paid, with legal interest from date of payment.” § 1, Art. V, ch. 103, p. 310, Acts 1892. $ 4110, $ 6, Art. V, provides as follows:
“Taxes on distilled spirits which may be assessed while in a bonded warehouse, and on which the United States Government tax has not been paid or will not become due before the first day of March after assessment, shall be due on the first day of January, May and September next after the said Government tax becomes due or be paid, or when the spirits are removed from the warehouse; and the taxes on each year's assessment shall bear legal interest as other taxes.”
The statute of 1902 strikes out the words “as other taxes” and inserts the words "until paid." Upon this change the controversy turns. The Court of Appeals in Commonwealth v. Rosenfield Brothers, supra, said there was a change in words only, not one in substance or meaning, and unless this be so, it was said, the legislature had taken "great pains to insert into every section relating to the subject-matter words which meant nothing." And again:“We do not know how the legislature could have made it plainer that state taxes on whiskey
in bond should bear interest than by the language used in the section aforesaid.” The section had been quoted. This was the court's conclusion “as an original proposition.” But it cited as “direct authority” Commonwealth v. - Taylor, 101 Kentucky, 327, where the “very question arose.” To the contention that the warehouseman has lost his lien through the construction put upon the act by the State's fiscal officers, and that the State was therefore estopped from collecting the interest, the court replied: “It may be true that this will work a hardship upon the distiller, but it was his duty, under the law, to pay the taxes and the accrued interest, and we cannot, in his behalf, waive the time-honored and conclusive presumption that he knew the law; and especially is this true since 1897, when the case of Commonwealth v. Taylor was decided, thus establishing beyond all question that taxes on whiskey in bond bore interest on the assessments made during the bonded period. Saying this, however, it is elementary that the State is not estopped by the laches of its officers.”
But from this situation this court cannot give relief. Due process of law does not assure to a taxpayer the interpretation of laws by the executive officers of a State as against their interpretation by the courts of the State or relief from the consequences of a misinterpretation by either. We do not mean to indicate that the decision of the court was wrong. It would, indeed, be difficult to resist the force of its reasoning. At any rate, it is the province of the courts to interpret the laws of the State, and he who acts under them must take his chance of being in accord with the final decision. And this is a hazard under every law and from which or the consequences of which we know of no security.
The assignments of crror repeat frequently and dwell upon the fact of the power of the Federal Government over the spirits and the distillery and its custody of them, and, it is urged, that such power is exclusive of the exercise of any other power whatever, and such custody has the effect to withdraw in legal contemplation the property from the jurisdiction of
the State, though it is actually present in the State, making it, indeed, as though it were outside of the territorial limits of the State. And it is hence concluded that plaintiff in error by the law of Kentucky is made to pay taxes on property belonging to another person outside of the jurisdiction of the State, and, it is contended, the decision of the court giving the laws these effects denies plaintiff in error the equal protection of the laws and deprives him of his property without due process of law.
There are many elements involved in the contention, and it is not easy, without extending this opinion to a great length, to give them separate and individual discussion. We will therefore consider only the main one, to wit, the power of the Federal Government over the spirits and the warehouse and the absolute want of power in the State to tax them or subject them to its process. This is the basic principle of the contentions of plaintiff in error, "for," he says, “the warehouseman cannot be made liable for the tax on the property if the property itself is not liable for the tax." There is further argument, to the effect that by reason of the control of the Federal Government the State cannot give, in all events and against all possibilty of the exercise of that control, to the warehouseman the means to enforce the lien conferred by the statute to reimburse himself, and he should therefore “be by that fact discharged from all liability on account of such assessment." But these contentions rest upon an exaggerated view of the control of the Federal Government and the effect of the Kentucky statute. The scheme of the statute is simple, and it is an exercise of the power which, we said in Carstairs v. Cochran, 193 U. S. 10, 16, the State undoubtedly possessed "to tax private property having a situs within its territorial limits." And this was said in response to contentions having the same ultimate foundation as those urged in the case at bar. The proposition was indeed considered as clemental, and as requiring nothing more than the illustration of cases. There may be instances where property, though within the territorial
limits of a State, is not subject completely to the jurisdiction of the State, and counsel has cited a number of such instances. Where their example applies they will be followed. It does not apply in the present case. There is no conflict between the state and Federal purpose. There is no question of the supremacy of the latter and its complete fulfillment. “The State does not propose,” the Court of Appeals said, "to collect the taxes so long as the spirits are in the custody or under the lien of the Federal Government." There is actual accommodation, therefore, of the power of the State to the rights of the Federal Government, and a harmonious exercise of the respective sovereignties of each, preserving to each necessary power. This is what Carstairs v. Cochran decides. See also Baltimore Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v. Baltimore, 195 U. S. 375.
A.word more may be necessary as to the contention that the statutes in controversy, as interpreted by the Court of Appeals of the State, deny to plaintiff in crror the equal protection of the laws. The ground of this contention is not explicitly distinguished in the assignments of crrors from the grounds of the other contentions, and in the brief of counsel the contention is made to depend upon the view, rejected by the Court of Appeals of the State, that the act of 1902 made a change in the law, and that only the owners of distilled spirits in bond are required to pay interest "upon taxes settled at the time they were due.” The effect of the act of 1902 has been considered and it is only necessary to add that the distinction made by the taxing statutes of the State between distilled spirits in bond and other property does not constitute a discrimination condemned by the Fourteenth Amendment. The power of the State to classify persons and property in its legislation is well established, and the power is not transcended by the statutes under review. Billings v. Illinois, 188 U. S. 97.
HUDSON COUNTY WATER COMPANY v. MCCARTER,
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.
ERROR TO THE COURT OF ERRORS AND APPEALS OF THE STATE
OF NEW JERSEY.
No. 184. Argued March 18, 19, 1908.-Decided April 6, 1908.
The boundary line between private rights of property which can only be
limited on compensation by the exercise of eminent domain, and the police power of the State which can limit such rights for the public interest, cannot be determined by any formula in advance, but points in that line helping to establish it have been fixed by decisions of the court that con
crete cases fall on the nearer or farther side thereof. The State, as quasi-sovereign and representative of the interests of the
public, has a standing in court to protect the atmosphere, the water and the forests within its territory, irrespective of the assent or dissent of the private owners immediately concerned. Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U. S.
125; Georgia v. Tennessce Copper Co., 206 U. S. 230. The public interest is omnipresent wherever there is a State, and grows more pressing as population grows, and is paramount to private property of riparian proprietors whose rights of appropriation are subject not only to rights of lower owners but also to the limitations that great foun
dations of public health and welfare shall not be diminished. A State has a constitutional power to insist that its natural advantages remain unimpaired by its citizens and is not dependent upon any reason for its will so to do. In the exercise of this power it may prohibit the diversion of the waters of its important streams to points outside of its
boundaries. One whose rights are subject to state restriction cannot remove them from
the power of the State by making a contract about them, and a contract illegal when made-touch as one for diverting water from the State-is
not within the protection of the contract clause of the Constitution One cannot acquire a right to property by his desire to use it in commerce
among the States. Citizens of other States are not denied equal privileges within the meaning
of the immunity clause of the Constitution by a statute forbidding the diversion of waters of the State if they are as free as the citizens of the State to purchase water within the boundaries of the State, nor can such
a question be raised by a citizen of the State itself. Chap. 238, Laws of New Jersey of 1905, prohibiting the transportation of