Amos v. Mathews

Decision Date23 January 1930
Citation126 So. 308,99 Fla. 65
PartiesAMOS, State Comptroller, et al. STATE ex rel. DAVIS, Attorney General v. MATHEWS. STATE ex rel. DAVIS, Attorney General v. CARLTON, Governor, et al.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court
En Banc.

Suit for injunction by John E. Mathews against Ernest Amos, as State Comptroller, and another; and original suit in nature of quo warranto by the State, on the relation of Fred H Davis, Attorney General, against Doyle E. Carlton, as Governor, and others. From an adverse decree in the injunction suit, defendants appeal. Affirmed in part, and reversed and remanded in part.

Demurrer to the information in the quo warranto suit sustained.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

To extent that statute violates express or clearly implied mandates to Constitution, it must fall. To the extent that a legislative act violates express or clearly implied mandates of the Constitution, the act must fall, not merely because the court so decrees, but because of the dominant force of the Constitution, an authority superior to both Legislature and judiciary.

As inherent attribute of sovereignty, state may impose all taxes not expressly or by clear implication inhibited by State or Federal Constitutions. The state possesses, as an attribute of sovereignty, the inherent power to impose all taxes not expressly or by clear implication inhibited by State or Federal Constitutions.

When Constitution prescribes manner or doing a thing, it impliedly forbids its being done in substantially different manner. When the Constitution expressly prescribes the manner of doing a thing, it impliedly forbids its being done in a substantially different manner, even though the Constitution does not in express terms prohibit the doing of the thing in such other manner.

Intent of organic, or statutory provisions is essence of law, and may be shown by implications and intendments as well as by express provisions; implied provisions of organic or statutory law, when judicially declared to exist, are as effective as express provisions. The intent of organic or statutory provisions is the essence of the law, and such intent may be shown by the 'implications and intendments' as well as by words of express provisions. Implied provisions of organic or statutory law are as effective as the express provisions, when such implied provisions are judicially declared to exist.

Object of constitutional construction is to ascertain and effectuate people's intention in adopting Constitution; people's intention and purpose in adopting Constitution is 'spirit of Constitution,' and is as obligatory as its written word; spirit of Constitution must be found in implications and intendments clearly flowing from express mandates of Constitution, considered in light of circumstances and historical events leading to its adoption. The object of constitutional construction is to ascertain and effectuate the intention and purpose of the people in adopting it. That intention and purpose is the 'spirit' of the Constitution, as obligatory as its written word. That spirit however, must be found in those implications and intendments which clearly flow from the express mandates of the Constitution when considered in the light of circumstances and historical events leading up to its adoption, from all of which the purpose of the people in adopting it is to be gleaned.

Purpose of gasoline taxes made apportionable to counties in proportions specified held to pay off existing county and district bonds, not expense of constructing or purchasing state roads (Laws 1929, c. 14575). The purpose of the second and third gas taxes levied by chapter 14575, Acts of 1929 (Senate Bill 5), is not to pay the expense of constructing or purchasing state roads, but to pay off existing county and district bonds.

Legislature is without power to levy state tax to pay county or district bonds; gasoline taxes apportionate to counties to pay off county and district bonds, if levied as state taxes, would be unconstitutional (Laws 1929, c. 14575; Const. art. 9, §§ 2, 6). The Legislature has no power to levy a state tax for the purpose of paying county or district bonds. If levied as state taxes, the second and third gas taxes levied by chapter 14575, Acts of 1929, would be repugnant to the Constitution and their levy void.

Original construction of roads and bridges may constitute dual purpose to be accomplished by either state or local taxation, or both; after roads and bridges have been completed as local projects, payment of local bonds issued therefor cannot constitute dual purpose necessary to imposition of state taxes for payment thereof (Const. art. 9, §§ 2, 6). While the original construction of roads and bridges may constitute a dual purpose to be accomplished by either state or appropriate local taxation, or both, it does not follow that after such roads have been constructed and completed as local projects and bonds have been issued as local bonds to pay the cost thereof, the payment of such bonds can similarly constitute a dual purpose justifying the imposition of state taxes to pay such local obligations. Sections 2 and 6 of article 9 of the Constitution intervene to prohibit the payment of such bonds with state funds.

Legislative declaration as to tax being state or county tax, is of great weight, though not necessarily controlling; absent legislative declaration, purpose for which revenue is to be raised constitutes controlling guide to nature of tax as being for state or county purposes, in absence of superior contravening indicia (Const. art. 9, §§ 2, 5, 6). A legislative declaration as to the character of a tax, that is, whether a state or county tax, is of great weight although not necessarily controlling. In the absence of legislative declaration, the purpose for which the revenue is to be raised and to which it is to be applied affords a controlling guide to the nature of the tax, in the absence of superior contravening indicia.

Gasoline taxes made apportionable to counties in specified proportions held county taxes, and revenue therefrom county funds (Laws 1929, c. 14575; Const. art. 9, §§ 2, 5, 6). The second and third gas taxes levied by chapter 14575, Acts of 1929, are levied for county purposes, and are therefore to be regarded as county taxes, in the absence of superior contravening indicia. The revenue therefrom becomes county funds.

All local powers must have their origin in grant by state Constitution clearly implies that, save as otherwise clearly contemplated, state functions shall be performed by state officers and county functions of exclusively local concern by county officers (Const. arts. 3, 4, 5, art. 8, §§ 1-6, art. 12, § 15, art. 18, § 10, art. 13, § 3, art. 7, § 3, and art. 16, § 4). It is fundamentally true that all local powers must have their origin in a grant by the state, which is the fountain and source of authority. Nevertheless, our State Constitution clearly implies, and it is therefore the spirit of our Constitution, that, save as is otherwise clearly contemplated thereby, the performance of state functions shall be confided to state officers, and that the performance of county functions of exclusively local concern shall be confided to county officers.

Legislature has broadest possible powers, consistent with constitutionally recognized existence of county officers, in determining extent of their local powers and duties (Const. art. 8, §§ 5, 6). Although the Constitution itself recognizes the existence of local county officers for the performance of governmental functions of exclusively local concern, under sections 5 and 6 of article 8 of the Constitution the Legislature possesses powers of the broadest possible nature consistent with the constitutionally recognized existence of these local officers in determining the extent of their local powers and duties.

County is agency of state, without inherent powers, but deriving powers wholly from state; Constitution recognizes existence of counties as local entities for local government purposes as well as legal political divisions of state (Const. art. 8, §§ 1, 2, 5, 6). A county is an arm or agency of the state, having no inherent powers, but deriving its powers wholly from the sovereign state. Nevertheless, the existence of counties as local entities for local governmental purposes, as well as their existence as legal political divisions of the state, is clearly recognized by the Constitution.

To some extent, county is autonomous, political entity with respect exclusively to local affairs, and state is not responsible for its acts and obligations in such matters (Const. art. 8). While the county is an agency of the state, it is also, under our Constitution, to some extent at least, an autonomous, self-governing, political entity with respect to exclusively local affairs, in the performance of which functions it is distinguished from its creator, the state, and for its acts and obligations when acting in purely local matters the state is not responsible.

County has no inherent power to tax, but any such power is derived from state (Const. art. 9, § 5). A county has no inherent power to impose taxes. That power, if it exists, must be derived from the state.

Constitution contemplates that exclusively state purpose be accomplished by state taxation, and exclusively county purpose, in which state has no sovereign interest or responsibility, by county taxation; purposes of dual nature, as state or county purpose, may be accomplished by taxation appropriate thereto (Const. art. 9, §§ 2, 5). Our Constitution contemplates that an exclusively state purpose shall be accomplished by state taxation; an exclusively county purpose, in which the state has no sovereign concern or responsibility, by county...

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115 cases
  • Ada County v. Wright
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    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 30, 1939
    ...loan the credit of the state of Idaho in any manner, as prohibited by section 2 of article 8 of the Idaho Constitution. (Amos v. Mathews, 99 Fla. 65, 115, 126 So. 308; Williams Baldridge, 48 Idaho 618, 284 P. 203; State v. Erickson, 93 Mont. 466, 19 P.2d 227; State v. Smith, 335 Mo. 825, 74......
  • State Ex Rel. Harrell v. Cone
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    • October 6, 1937
    ... ... being a part of the first, second, or third preferential ... system of state roads ... In ... Carlton v. Mathews, 103 Fla. 301, 137 So. 815, we ... held that the primary purpose of chapter 15659, Acts 1931 ... (Ex.Sess.), in imposing the 'second gas tax,' was ... purpose or purposes. It has been designated a county fund ... when it gets to the counties. Amos v. Mathews, 99 ... Fla. 1, 126 So. 308. Carlton v. Mathews, supra. Ordinarily, ... the Legislature has plenary power in the matter ... [177 So ... ...
  • State ex rel. West v. Gray
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • February 16, 1954
    ...ascertained must be that of the framers and the people adopting it, for that intention is the 'spirit' of the Constitution. Amos v. Mathews, 99 Fla. 1, 126 So. 308; Sullivan v. City of Tampa, 101 Fla. 298, 134 So. 211; City of Jacksonville v. Continental Can Co., 113 Fla. 168, 151 So. 488; ......
  • Carlton v. Mathews
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    ...bonds already issued, at a lower rate of interest.' The appellee claims that the holding of this court in the case of Amos v. Mathews, 99 Fla. 1, 126 So. 308, conclusive of this proposition, and it is confidently asserted that the opinion in the cited case is decisive of the case at bar. In......
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2 books & journal articles
  • The Foreclosure of Local Special Assessment Liens: What, Where, Why, and How of the Civil Action and Enforcement Methods.
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    ...Williams v. Town of Dunnellon, 169 So. 631 (Fla. 1936). See also Heriot v. City of Pensacola, 146 So. 654 (Fla. 1933); Amos v. Mathews, 126 So. 308 (Fla. 1930); Malone v. City of Quincy, 62 So. 922 (Fla. (6) City of Boca Raton, 595 So. 2d at 25; Collier County v. State, 733 So. 2d 1012 (Fla......
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    ...ex rel. Dade County v. Dickinson, 230 So. 2d 130, 135 (Fla. 1970); Gray v. Bryant, 125 So. 2d 846, 851-52 (Fla. 1960); Amos v. Mathews, 126 So. 308 (Fla. (65) See, e.g., Winfield v. Div. of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, 477 So. 2d 544 (Fla. 1985). In Winfield, the Supreme Court was considering Flor......
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