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Every such immunity must receive a strict construction. Legislation which is claimed to relieve any species of property from its due proportion of the general burdens of government should be so clear that there can be neither reasonable doubt nor controversy about its terms. The language must be such as leaves no room for discussion. Doubts must be resolved against the exemption.' If a statute gives authority for a special purpose, and thereby impliedly remits a general duty, this implied remission cannot be prolonged beyond the necessary requirements of the purpose. A statute exempting a
railroad company from liability for accidents to passengers riding on the platform of cars,3 limiting individual liability of partners in limited partnerships, and according to some cases, and probably contrary to the weight of authority, laws exempting certain property of debtors from execution," laws providing for stay of proceedings in favor of persons enlisted in the army, are construed strictly. So are provisions relating to disabilities, saving rights of action, and extending the time for their assertion; and provisions exonerating ship
St. Louis, etc. Ry. Co. v. Berry, 41 Ark. 509; Rue v. Alter, 5 Denio, 119; Railway Co. v. Loftin, 98 U. S. 559; Cincinnati College v. State, 19 Ohio, 110; State v. Mills, 34 N. J. L. 177; Gordon's Ex'r v. Mayor, etc. 5 Gill, 231; Weston v. Supervisors, 44 Wis. 242; State v. McFetridge, 64 1d. 130. Exemption from taxation does not include exemption from local assessments. 5 Am. & Eng. Corp. Cas. 552, note. "An exception as to the exemption is made in favor of sales for nonpayment of taxes or assessments, and for a debt or liability incurred for the purchase or improvement of the premises, thus, according to a familiar rule of construction, excluding, by necessary implication, any other exemption; and the language expressly excludes every other known mode of incumbering and conveying the property." Eldridge v. Pierce, 90 Ill. 474. Statutes exempting railroad property from taxation are to be liberally con
strued if a license fee or other equivalent is paid in lieu of taxes levied in the usual way. Milwaukee, etc. R'y Co. v. Milwaukee, 34 Wis. 271.
1 Bailey v. Magwire, 22 Wall. 226; Vicksburg, etc. Ry. Co. v. Dennis, 116 U. S. 665; Yazoo R. R. Co. v. Thomas, 132 id. 174. See Gray v. La Fayette Co. 65 Wis. 567.
2 Williams v. Tripp, 11 R. I. 447.
3 Willis v. Railroad Co. 32 Barb. 398.
Andrews v. Schott, 10 Pa. St. 47; Vandike v. Rosskam, 67 id. 330; Maloney v. Bruce, 94 id. 249; Eliot v. Himrod, 108 id. 560.
5 Re Lammer, 7 Biss. 269; Rue v. Alter, 5 Denio, 119; post, § 422. See Carpenter v. Herrington, 25 Wend. 370; Kinard v. Moore, 3 Strob. 193.
6 Breitenbach v. Bush, 44 Pa. St. 313.
7 Carlisle v. Stitler, 1 Pen. & W. 6; Thompson v. Smith, 7 Serg. & R. 209;
owners for damages caused their ships through the faults of pilots whom they are compelled to employ.'
§ 365. Acts delegating the power of taxation.- Acts of this class are construed with great strictness. Two concurring principles leading to strict construction apply. Such acts affect arbitrarily private property, and are grants of power. "The power to lay taxes," says the supreme court of Ohio, "is one of the highest attributes of sovereignty. It involves the right to take the private property of the citizen without his consent and without other consideration than the promotion of the public good. Such interference with the natural right of acquisition and enjoyment guarantied by the constitution can only be justified when public necessity clearly demands it. Being a sovereign power, it can only be exercised by the general assembly when delegated by the people in the fundamental law; much less can it be exercised by a municipal corporation without a further unequivocal delegation by the legislative body." The power can be delegated by the legislature, but only in plain and unambiguous words. Statutes for that purpose will be construed strictly, and they must be closely pursued; a departure in any material part will be fatal.
Rankin v. Tenbrook, 6 Watts, 388; Marple v. Myers, 12 Pa. St. 122; Rider v. Maul, 46 id. 376.
1 The Protector, 1 W. Rob. 45; The Diana, 4 Moore, P. C. 11; The Iona, L. R. 1 P. C. 426.
2 Mays v. Cincinnati, 1 Ohio St. 269, 273; Bennett v. Birmingham, 31 Pa. St. 15; Wisconsin Telephone Co. v. Oshkosh, 62 Wis. 32.
3 St. Louis v. Laughlin, 49 Mo. 559; Davis v. Gaines, 48 Ark. 370; Williamson v. New Jersey, 130 U. S. 189. 4 St. Louis v. Laughlin, 49 Mo. 559; Douglass v. Mayor, etc. 18 Cal. 643; Harding v. Bader, 75 Mich. 316; Matter of 2d Ave. M. E. Church, 66 N. Y. 395.
5 Judge of Campbell County Court v. Taylor, 8 Bush, 206; Sharp v. Johnson, 4 Hill, 92; Lake v. Williamsburgh, 4 Denio, 520; Hewes v. Reis, 40
Cal. 255; Holland v. Mayor, etc. 11 Md. 186; Clark v.. Washington, 12 Wheat. 40; Fowle v. Alexandria, 3 Pet. 398; Reed v. Toledo, 18 Ohio, 161; Jonas v. Cincinnati, id. 318; Mays v. Cincinnati, 1 Ohio St. 268; Nichol v. Nashville, 9 Humph, 252; Kniper v. Louisville, 7 Bush, 599; Broadway Bap. Church v. McAtee, 8 Bush, 508; Clark, Dodge & Co. v. Davenport, 14 Iowa, 494; United States v. Mayor, etc. 2 Am. L. Reg. (N. S.) 394 and note; St. Charles v. Nolle, 51 Mo. 122, 124; Bennett v. Birmingham, 31 Pa. St. 15; Henry v. Chester, 15 Vt. 460; Rex v. Liverpool, 4 Burr. 2244; Ryerson v. Laketon, 52 Mich. 509; Folkerts v. Power, 42 Mich. 283; Houghton County v. Auditor-Gen. 41 Mich. 28; Cruger v. Dougherty, 43 N. Y. 107, 121; Sharp v. Speir, 4 Hill, 76, 83; Beaty v. Knowler, 4 Pet. 152.
Any doubt or ambiguity arising out of the terms used by the legislature must be resolved in favor of the public.' Accordingly it is held that under authority to levy a tax and to sell property for non-payment land cannot be sold for a delinquent assessment. A power to tax or entirely suppress all petty groceries will not authorize a grant of licenses for retailing.3 A power to tax for repaving streets will not include an original paving. A charter power to a municipal corporation to tax hacks, drays, etc., within the city does not authorize a tax on outside residents engaged in hauling into and out of the city, and even an express grant of such power to tax would be void as an unconstitutional taking of private property for public use. Authority to tax "auctioneers, grocers, merchants, retailers, hotels, hackney carriages, omnibuses, carts, drays and other vehicles, and all other business, trades, avocations or professions whatever," held not to include attorneys at law. Where a special tax is authorized for a specified purpose, and the law is silent as to cost of collection, nothing can be added for compensation of the collector. It is not in the power of the common council of a city, by ordinance, to include persons as hucksters who do not fall within the ordinary meaning of that term; nor can the power of taxation upon employments, when not conferred by the charter, be resorted to as a means of preventing huckstering. Where the taxing power was authorized to be exercised after a majority of the legal voters of a county named had voted in favor of a specified proposition, it was held that this was a condition precedent, and that it was not fulfilled by a submission to the voters of such county excepting those in a city therein."
§ 366. Statutes against common right.— Statutes against common right are those which operate exceptionally to the
1 Id.; Minturn v. Larue, 23 How. 435.
2 Sharp v. Speir, 4 Hill, 76; City of Fairfield v. Ratcliff, 20 Iowa, 396.
3 Leonard v. Canton, 35 Miss. 189. 4 Holland v. Mayor, etc. 11 Md. 186. 5 St. Charles v. Nolle, 51 Mo. 122, 124; Bennett v. Birmingham, 31 Pa. St. 15.
6 St. Louis v. Laughlin, 49 Mo. 559; Trustees, etc. v. Osborne, 9 Ind. 458.
As to application of the doctrine of ejusdem generis, see Littlefield v. Winslow, 19 Me. 394; Foster v. Blount, 18 Ala. 689; Grumley v. Webb, 44 Mo. 458; Sedgw. 423; ante, § 268. See State v. Robinson, 42 Minn. 107. 7 Jonas v. Cincinnati, 18 Ohio, 318. 8 Mays v. Cincinnati, 1 Ohio St. 268. 9 Judge of Campbell County Court v. Taylor, 8 Bush, 206.
prejudice of particular persons; not laws of general application which happen to harshly affect a few individuals on account of their exceptional condition, but laws which do not have such an application; those which operate, when they apply at all, to a few, while the rest of the community are exempt. Such statutes are construed strictly. Of this nature is a statute obliging an attorney, on request or nomination of a court, to take charge of a lawsuit gratuitously. The act incorporating the Cayuga Bridge Company contained a provision that it should not be lawful for any person or persons to erect any bridge or establish any ferry within three miles of the company's bridge, nor be lawful for any person to cross the lake except in his own boat within that distance without paying toll to the company. The provision was construed strictly and held not to apply to a person who crossed the lake within that distance on the ice.3 The court say statutes cannot take away a common right unless the intention is manifest; and, when not remedial, are not to be extended even by equitable principles. Towns being under no obligation, except that created by law, to support paupers, a case must be brought strictly within the provisions of the law before the duty arises; and an approximation, however near, will not be sufficient. Questions of legal settlement depend, therefore, upon a strict and precise application of positive law." Where the settlement depended by the language of the statute on having an estate the principal of which shall be set at 607. or the income at 37., in the valuation of estates by assessors, and be assessed for the same for the space of five years successively in the town where a person dwelt, it was not enough that he had an estate of that value not assessed at all. The right to impress property to be used for the taking care of persons infected with sickness dangerous to public health can only be exercised when expressly granted.
1 Flint River Steamboat Co. v. Foster, 5 Ga. 194; Mayor, etc. v. Hartridge, 8 id. 23; Young v. McKenzie, 3 id. 40; Marsh v. Nelson, 101 Pa. St. 51; Rothgerber v. Dupuy, 64 Ill. 452; Walker v. Chicago, 56 id. 277. 2 Webb v. Baird, 6 Ind. 13. 3 Sprague v. Birdsall, 2 Cow. 419.
4 Coolidge v. Williams, 4 Mass. 140; Melody v. Reab, id. 473.
5 Danvers v. Boston, 10 Pick. 513. 6 Id.; Billerica v. Chelmsford, 10 Mass. 394.
Monson v. Chester, 22 Pick. 385. 8 Pinkham v. Dorothy, 55 Me. 135; Mitchell v. Rockland, 45 id. 496.
§ 367. Statutes are not unfrequently enacted for police purposes which by their terms must operate to the special prejudice of persons in particular situations, for the common good. In a certain sense these are statutes against common right; and though the power to pass them is unquestionable, they should only operate within their strict letter, interpreted according to their plain intent. For the protection of a harbor the legislature may forbid the removal of stones, gravel or sand from the beach by the owner. Restrictions on the building or repairing of wood structures in the populous part of a city, com.monly designated as fire limits, are invasions of private right, and to be strictly confined to their literal import.2 Laws in restraint of trade, or the alienation of property, or those which abridge the privilege or right of giving evidence,' will be construed strictly. So of a statute requiring of suitors a test oath." An act placing Indians under certain disabilities in respect to selling or devising their land was held not to be strictly construed, especially if, by such construction, the object of the legislature would be defeated; protective and remedial statutes imposing disabilities upon persons for their benefit ought to receive a liberal construction.6
§ 368. Statutes of limitation.- Statutes limiting the right to bring actions to particular periods are restrictive and will not be extended to any other than the cases expressly provided for; and the exceptions are allowed a liberal effect, though not so liberal as to embrace cases within the reason when not within the letter of them. The exception of actions which concern the trade of merchandise between merchants is confined to actions on open and current accounts; it does
1 Commonwealth v. Tewksbury, 11 Met. 55.
2 Stewart v. Commonwealth, 10 Watts, 307; Brady v. Northwestern Ins. Co. 11 Mich. 425, 451; Booth v. State, 4 Conn. 65; Tuttle v. State, id. 68.
3 Richards v. Emswiler, 14 La. Ann. 658; Sewall v. Jones, 9 Pick. 412; Gunter v. Leckey, 30 Ala. 591. 4 Smith v. Spooner, 3 Pick. 229; Pelham v. Messenger, 16 La. Ann. 99.
5 Harrison v. Leach, 4 W. Va. 383. 6 Doe v. Avaline, 8 Ind. 6, and note. See Smith v. Spooner, supra.
7 Bedell v. Janney, 9 Ill. 193; Delaware, etc. R. R. Co. v. Burson, 61 Pa. St. 369; Pearl v. Conley, 7 Sm. & M. 358; Wood on St. Lim. § 4.
8 Roddam v. Morley, 1 De G. &
9 Sacia v. De Graaf, 1 Cow. 356. See post, §§ 424, 425.