True, the taxing power is comprehensive, and acknowledges few exceptions. But that there are exceptions, besides the one we here recognize and sustain, is well settled. In @ 78 U. S. 585, 157 U. S. 601, 157 U. S. 652-653, it was held, the full court agreeing on this point, that Congress was without power to impose such a tax in respect of interest received from bonds issued by a state or any of its counties or municipalities, and in United States v. Railroad Co., 17 Wall. 322, there was a like holding as to municipal revenues derived by the City of Baltimore from its ownership of stock in a railroad company. None of those decisions was put on any express prohibition in the Constitution, for there is none, but all recognize and gave effect to a prohibition implied from the independence of the states within their own spheres.
When we consider, as was done in those cases, what is comprehended in the congressional power to tax where its exertion is not directly or impliedly interdicted, it becomes additionally manifest that the prohibition now
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under discussion was intended to embrace and prevent diminution through the exertion of that power, for, as this Court repeatedly has held, the power to tax carries with it "the power to embarrass and destroy," may be applied to every object within its range "in such measure as Congress may determine," enables that body "to select one calling and omit another, to tax one class of property and to forbear to tax another," and may be applied in different ways to different objects so long as there is "geographical uniformity" in the duties, imposts and excises imposed. 17 U. S. 431; 74 U. S. 443; 74 U. S. 699; 75 U. S. 541, 75 U. S. 548; Knowlton v. Moore, 178 U. S. 41, 178 U. S. 92, 178 U. S. 106; Treat v. White, 181 U. S. 264, 181 U. S. 268-269; McCray v. United States, 195 U. S. 27, 195 U. S. 61; Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 220 U. S. 107, 220 U. S. 158; Billings v. United States, 232 U. S. 261, 232 U. S. 282; Brushaber v. Union Pacific R. Co., 240 U. S. 1, 240 U. S. 24-26. Is it not therefore morally certain that the discerning statesmen who framed the Constitution and were so sedulously bent on securing the independence of the judiciary intended to protect the compensation of the judges from assault and diminution in the name or form of a tax? Could not the purpose of the prohibition be wholly thwarted if this avenue of attack were left open? Certainly there is nothing in the words of the prohibition indicating that it is directed against one legislative power and not another, and, in our opinion, due regard for its spirit and principle requires that it be taken as directed against them all.
This view finds support in rulings in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and North Carolina, made under like constitutional restrictions, Commonwealth ex rel. v. Mann, 5 Watts & S. 403, 415 et seq.; [Footnote 4] New Orleans v. Lea, 14
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La.Ann.197; 48 N.C. Appendix; N.C. Public Documents 1899, Doc. No. 8, p. 95; In re Taxation of Salaries of Judges, 131 N.C. 692; Purnell v. Page, 133 N.C. 125, and has strong sanction in the actual practice of the government, to which we now advert.
"Language could not be more plain than that used in
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the Constitution. It is, moreover, one of its most important and essential provisions. For the articles which limit the powers of the legislative and executive branches of the government, and those which provide safeguards for the protection of the citizen in his person and property, would be of little value without a judiciary to uphold and maintain them which was free from every influence, direct or indirect, that might by possibility in times of political excitement warp their judgments."
"Upon these grounds, I regard an act of Congress retaining in the Treasury a portion of the compensation of the judges as unconstitutional, and void."
This was back when the Supreme Court was still following the Constitution and of course, Judges ruling for Judges. But now maybe these three cases citations will make more sense to you.
"All subjects over which the sovereign power of a state extends, are objects of taxation; but those over which it does not extend, are, upon the soundest principles, exempt from taxation. This proposition may almost be pronounced self-evident."* * *"The sovereignty of a state extends to everything which exists by its own authority, or is introduced by its permission."
“The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections. " (emphasis added)319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943)(Opinion, J. Jackson)
"The right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an inalienable right; it was formulated as such under the phrase "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence, which commenced with the fundamental proposition that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This right is a large ingredient in the civil liberty of the citizen."
(italics, the Court's; bold emphasis added)Butchers' Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746, 762, 4 S.Ct. 652 (1884) (Justice Field Concurring, joined by JJ. Bradley, Harlan, and Woods)