Lane County v. Oregon

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtThe second proposition remains to be examined, and this inquiry brings us to the consideration of the acts of Congress; In the first act no emission was authorized of any notes under five dollars, nor in the other two of any under one dollar. The not
Citation74 U.S. 71,19 L.Ed. 101,7 Wall. 71
Decision Date01 December 1868
PartiesLANE COUNTY v. OREGON

74 U.S. 71
19 L.Ed. 101
7 Wall. 71
LANE COUNTY
v.
OREGON.
December Term, 1868

ERROR to the Supreme Court of Oregon. The case was this:

Congress, February, 1862, authorized the issue of $150,000,000

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in notes of the United States, and enacted that they should 'be receivable in payment of all taxes, internal duties, levies, debts, and demands due to the United States, except duties on imports; and of all claims and demands of any kind whatever against the United States, except interest on bonds and notes, which shall be paid in coin; and shall also be lawful money and legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States, except duties on imports.' A subsequent act, authorizing a further issue, contained an enactment very similar, as to the legal characteristics of the notes, when issued. A third act, authorizing a yet further issue, enacted simply that they should be lawful money or a legal tender. Under these three acts, a large amount of notes of the United States, which circulated as money, were issued.

Subsequently to this, the legislature of Oregon passed a statute, enacting that 'the sheriff shall pay over to the county treasurer, the full amount of the State and school taxes, in gold and silver coin;'1 and that 'the several county treasurers shall pay over to the State treasurer the State tax in gold and silver coin.'2

In this condition of statute law, Federal and State, the State of Oregon, in April, 1865, filed a complaint against the County of Lane, in the Circuit Court of the State for that county, to recover $5460.96, in gold and silver coin, which sum was alleged to have become due, as State revenue, from the county to the State, on the first Monday of February, 1864.

To this complaint an answer was put in by the county, alleging a tender of the amount claimed by the State, made on the 23d day of January, 1864, to the State treasurer, at his office, in United States notes, and averring that the lawful money, so tendered and offered, was, in truth and fact, part of the first moneys collected and paid into the county treasury, after the assessment of taxes for the year 1862.

To this answer there was a demurrer, which was sustained

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by the Circuit Court, and judgment was given that the plaintiff recover of the defendant the sum claimed, in gold and silver coin, with costs of suit. This judgment was affirmed, upon writ of error, by the Supreme Court of the State.

The case was now brought here by writ of error to that court.

Mr. Williams, for Lane County, plaintiff in error, laid down and pressed upon the attention of the court, seeking to maintain them by argument and authority, these two propositions:3

1st. That the laws of Oregon did not require the collection, in coin, of the taxes in question, and that the treasurer of the county could not be required to pay the treasurer of the State any other money than that in which the taxes were actually collected.

2d. That the tender of the amount of taxes made to the treasurer of the State, by the treasurer of the county, in United States notes, was warranted by the acts of Congress authorizing the issue of these notes, and that the law of the State, if it required collection and payment in coin, was repugnant to these acts, and therefore void.

Mr. Johnson (a brief of Mr. Mallory being filed), contra.

The CHIEF JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the court.

Two propositions have been pressed upon our attention, ably and earnestly, in behalf of the plaintiff in error.

The first of them will be first considered.

The answer avers, substantially, that the money tendered was part of the first moneys collected in Lane County after the assessment of 1863, and the demurrer admits the truth of the answer.

The fact therefore may be taken as established, that the

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taxes for that year, in Lane County, were collected in United States notes.

But was this in conformity with the laws of Oregon?

In this court the construction given by the State courts to the laws of a State, relating to loca affairs, is uniformly received as the true construction; and the question first stated must have been passed upon in reaching a conclusion upon the demurrer, both by the Circuit Court for the county and by the Supreme Court of the State. Both courts must have held that the statutes of Oregon, either directly or by clear implication, required the collection of taxes in gold and silver coin.

Nor do we perceive anything strained or unreasonable in this construction. The laws of Oregon, as quoted in the brief for the State, provided that 'the sheriff shall pay over to the county treasurer the full amount of the State and school taxes, in gold and silver coin;' and that 'the several county treasurers shall pay over to the State treasurer the State tax, in gold and silver coin.'

It is certainly a legitimate, if not a necessary inference, that these taxes were required to be collected in coin. Nothing short of express words would warrant us in saying that the laws authorized collection in one description of money from the people, and required payment over of the same taxes into the county and State treasuries in another.

If, in our judgment, however, this point were otherwise, we should still be bound by the soundest principles of judicial administration, and by a long train of decisions in this court, to regard the judgment of the Supreme Court of Oregon, so far as it depends on the right construction of the statutes of that State, as free from error.

The second proposition remains to be examined, and this inquiry brings us to the consideration of the acts of Congress, authorizing the issue of the notes in which the tender was made.

The first of these was the act of February 25, 1862, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue, on the

Page 75

credit of the United States, one hundred and fifty millions of dollars in United States notes, and provided that these notes 'shall be receivable in payment of all taxes, internal duties, excises, debts and demands due to the United States, except duties on imports, and of all claims and demands against the United States of every kind whatsoever, except interest on bonds and notes, which shall be paid in coin; and shall also be lawful money and legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States, except duties on imports and interest as aforesaid.'

The second act contains a provision nearly in the same words with that just recited, and under these two acts two-thirds of the entire issue was authorized. It is unnecessary, therefore, to refer to the third act, by which the notes to be issued under it are not in terms made receivable and payable, but are simply declared to be lawful money and a legal tender.

In the first act no emission was authorized of any notes under five dollars, nor in the other two of any under one dollar. The notes, authorized by different statutes, for parts of a dollar, were never declared to be lawful money or a legal tender.4

It is obvious, therefore, that a legal tender in United States notes of the precise amount of taxes admitted to be due to the State could not be made. Coin was then, and is now, the only legal...

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165 practice notes
  • Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of N.J., Nos. 13–1713
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 17, 2013
    ...on the consideration of federal proposals, they do not threaten the States' “separate and independent existence,” Lane County v. Oregon, [74 U.S. 71] 7 Wall. 71, 76, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869); Coyle v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, 580, 31 S.Ct. 688, 695, 55 L.Ed. 853 (1911), and do not impair the abil......
  • U.S. v. Comstock, No. 5:06-HC-2195BR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • September 7, 2007
    ...e.g., Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U.S. 528, 105 S.Ct. 1005, 83 L.Ed.2d 1016 (1985); Lane County v. Oregon, 7 Wall. 71, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869).... This has been the Court's consistent understanding: "The States unquestionably do retai[n] a significant measure of so......
  • Self-Insurance Inst. of Am., Inc. v. Snyder, No. 12–2264.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 4, 2014
    ...Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Neusser, 810 F.2d 550, 555 (6th Cir.1987) (citing County of Lane v. Oregon, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 71, 76–77, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869)); see also Thiokol Corp. v. Roberts, 76 F.3d 751, 755 (6th Cir.1996) (citing Fair Assessment in Real Estate Ass'n, Inc. v. McNary, 454 ......
  • Printz v. U.S., 951478
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1997
    ...retained a residuary and inviolable sovereignty that is reflected throughout the Constitution's text. See, e.g., Lane County v. Oregon, 7 Wall. 71, 76, 19 L.Ed. 101. The Framers rejected the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States, and instead designed a s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
170 cases
  • Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of N.J., Nos. 13–1713
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 17, 2013
    ...on the consideration of federal proposals, they do not threaten the States' “separate and independent existence,” Lane County v. Oregon, [74 U.S. 71] 7 Wall. 71, 76, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869); Coyle v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, 580, 31 S.Ct. 688, 695, 55 L.Ed. 853 (1911), and do not impair the abil......
  • U.S. v. Comstock, No. 5:06-HC-2195BR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • September 7, 2007
    ...e.g., Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U.S. 528, 105 S.Ct. 1005, 83 L.Ed.2d 1016 (1985); Lane County v. Oregon, 7 Wall. 71, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869).... This has been the Court's consistent understanding: "The States unquestionably do retai[n] a significant measure of so......
  • Self-Insurance Inst. of Am., Inc. v. Snyder, No. 12–2264.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 4, 2014
    ...Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Neusser, 810 F.2d 550, 555 (6th Cir.1987) (citing County of Lane v. Oregon, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 71, 76–77, 19 L.Ed. 101 (1869)); see also Thiokol Corp. v. Roberts, 76 F.3d 751, 755 (6th Cir.1996) (citing Fair Assessment in Real Estate Ass'n, Inc. v. McNary, 454 ......
  • Printz v. U.S., 951478
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1997
    ...retained a residuary and inviolable sovereignty that is reflected throughout the Constitution's text. See, e.g., Lane County v. Oregon, 7 Wall. 71, 76, 19 L.Ed. 101. The Framers rejected the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States, and instead designed a s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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