State Ex Rel. Richards v. Moorer, (No. 12746.)

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtSTABLER
Citation150 S.E. 269
PartiesSTATE ex rel. RICHARDS . v. MOORER et al. STATE ex ret. FARR . v. SAME. JOHNSONet al. v. STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION et al.
Docket Number(No. 12746.)
Decision Date12 October 1929

150 S.E. 269

MOORER et al.
STATE ex ret.

(No. 12746.)

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Oct. 12, 1929.

[150 S.E. 270]


[150 S.E. 271]

Watts, C. J., Blease, J., Bonham, Townsend, and Henry, Circuit Judges, and Cothran, J., dissenting.

Original proceedings by the State, on the relation of Clarence Richards, ' and on the relation of J. S. Farr, against C. P. Moorer and others, and proceedings by Clarence L. Johnson and others against the State Highway Commission and others, to have an Act of the General Assembly approved March 14, 1929 (36 St. at Large, p. 670) declared unconstitutional, and for an injunction. Statute upheld, and injunction denied.

Thomas & Lumpkin and D. W. Robinson, all of Columbia, Haynsworth & Haynsworth, of Greenville, S. M. Wolfe and Harold Major, both of Anderson, Cole L. Blease, of Columbia, and John D. Long, of Union, for petitioners.

John M. Daniel, Atty. Gen., and Cordie Page and J. Ivey Humphrey, Asst. Attys. Gen., R. E. Whiting, of Columbia, Mendel L. Smith, of Camden, W. C. Wolfe, of Orangeburg, and Nicholls, Wyche & Byrnes, of Spartanburg, for respondents.

STABLER, J. The common purpose of the above-entitled actions, brought in the original jurisdiction of this court by several citizens and taxpayers, either in their own names or in the name of the state, is to have a certain Act of the General Assembly (36 St. at Large, p. 670), approved March 14, 1929, declared unconstitutional and void, and to have the respondents permanently enjoined from carrying out its provisions. The cases involve practically the same issues and I shall consider them together.

The CHIEF JUSTICE of this court, for whose views I have the greatest respect, has written an opinion in which he has reached the conclusion that the act in question contravenes certain provisions of the Constitution and is therefore invalid. I greatly regret that, after a careful study of the act and of the issues involved in these proceedings, I do not find myself in full agreement with his views and conclusions; and shall endeavor to state my reasons therefor.

The title of the act is as follows: "An Act to Provide for the Construction and Maintenance of the State Highway System and for the Payment, with Interest, of Certain Obligations of the State Highway Commission and of Counties and Highway or Bridge Districts Arising from the Construction of Highways, and for These Purposes to Authorize the Issuance of Evidences of Indebtedness of the State, to Divide the State into Two Highway Districts, to Authorize the Issuance of Evidences of Indebtedness of These Districts, to Appropriate and Provide for the Disposition of the Gasoline Tax and Motor Vehicle License Fees and Other Revenues, and to Provide for the Administration and Operation of the State Highway Department."

The act contains a preamble, setting forth certain legislative recitals and findings of fact as the basis of the legislation proposed, and declaring that: "In the judgment of the General Assembly, an immediate investment by the State in a complete State Highway System in accordance with the financial plans set forth in this Act would be not only self-sustaining—never costing the taxpayers of the State one cent of property taxes—but would also produce great profits or dividends which cannot be stated in terms of money."

[150 S.E. 272]

I shall hereafter refer more particularly to this preamble.

The act is divided into three articles, the first of which provides for establishing a state unit plan for financing the completion of the construction of the state highway system; article 2 provides for a district unit plan of financing; and article 3 contains certain general provisions and relates, in part, to matters of an administrative nature.

In considering the issue presented in this case, the constitutionality of a statute, I fully appreciate the importance and seriousness of some of the questions raised by the petitioners; but, as stated in Wingfield v. South Carolina Tax Commission, 147 S. C. 116, 144 S. E. 846, 848, I am "also mindful of the fact that it is a grave matter to declare a solemn enactment of the Legislature, a coordinate branch of the government, invalid, and that the court in its deliberation and conclusions should be guided by the well-settled principle that the unconstitutionality of an act must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. McKiever et al. v. City of Sumter et al., 137 S. C. 266, 135 S. E. 60; Poulnot v. Cantwell, 129 S. C. 171, 123 S. E. 653; Battle v. Willcox, 128 S. C. 500, 122 S. E. 516; San-tee Mills v. Query, 122 S. C. 158, 115 S. E. 202; Powell v. Hargrove, 136 S. C. 345, 134 S. E. 380."

The following clear statement of this principle is found in 6 R. C. L. p. 75: "To justify a Court in pronouncing a legislative Act unconstitutional or a provision of a State Constitution to be in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, the case must be so clear as to be free from doubt, and the conflict of the statute with the Constitution must be Irreconcilable, because it is but a decent respect to the wisdom, the integrity, and the patriotism of the legislative body by which any law is passed to presume in favor of its validity until the contrary is shown beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, in no doubtful case will the judiciary pronounce a legislative Act to be contrary to the Constitution. To doubt the constitutionality of a law. is to resolve the doubt in favor of its validity."

I shall now proceed to consider the several grounds upon which the constitutionality of the act is attacked,

I. It is contended that the act in question is violative of section 17 of article 3 of the state Constitution, which provides that "Every Act or resolution having the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title."

In Verner v. Muller, 89 S. C. 117, 71 S. E. 654, 655, with regard to this provision,, the court said: "The mandate of the Constitution is complied with if the title states the general subject of legislation and the provisions in the body of the act are germane thereto as means to accomplish the object expressed in the title. Connor v. Railroad, 23 S. C. 427; State v. O'Day, 74 S. C. 448, 54 S. E. 607."

The controlling principle of construction Is that stated in Lillard v. Melton, 103 S. C. 10, 87 S. E. 421, 423: "When the general subject is expressed in the title, any details of legislation which provide the means, methods, or instrumentalities which are intended to facilitate the accomplishment of the general purpose, and are germane to it, may be embraced in the body of the act without violating this provision of the Constitution. State v. O'Day, 74 S. C. 449, 54 S. E. 607; AycockLittle Co. v. Railway, 76 S. C. 331, 57 S. E. 27; Johnson v. Commissioners, 97 S. C. 212, 81 S. E. 502."

"It is not necessary that the title should be an index of the contents of the statute." Briggs v. Greenville County, 137 S. C. 288, 135 S. E. 153, 163. See, also, Means v. Highway Department, 146 S. C. 19, 143 S. E. 360; McKiever v. City of Sumter, 137 S. C. 266, 135 S. E. 60.

Counsel for petitioners have failed to indicate any proper basis for their contention. Measured by the rules of construction above indicated, an examination of the wording of the title and of the provisions of the act satisfies any doubt that the constitutional mandate in that respect was fully complied with. It cannot be fairly contended that the body of the act contains a single clause that may not be properly viewed as "a means to accomplish" the expressed objects thereof or as "matter promotive" of the general object, which is the construction and maintenance of a state highway system; or that the people of the state were not "fairly apprised" of the character, through publications, of the pending legislation. There is no merit in this contention.

II. The petitioners also challenge the constitutionality of the act upon the following grounds: (1) That it did not receive three readings in each of the Houses of the General Assembly on three several days, and so violated section 18 of Article 3 of the Constitution; (2) that, although a revenue measure, it did not originate in the House of Representatives, and so violated section 15 of article 3 of the Constitution; and (3) that it was improperly amended during its passage.

This question, in its threefold aspect, is disposed of adversely to the contention of the petitioners by the recent decision of this court in Wingfield v. Tax Commission, supra, in which the court said:

"Prior to 1S93, the journal entry rule prevailed in this state. State v. Piatt, 2 S. 0.150, 16 Am. Rep. 647. State v. Hagood, 13 S. C. 46. In each of these cases, however, a vigorous dissenting opinion was filed. In his dissent in the Hagood Case, Mr. Justice Mclver said:

" 'The true rule, in my judgment, is that when an act has been enrolled, has had the great seal of the state affixed to it, has been signed by the president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives and

[150 S.E. 273]

has been approved by the Governor, it imports absolute verity; that its terms can only be finally ascertained by an inspection of the enrolled act, and that it is not competent to go behind it, and alter its terms either by entries* in the journals of the two houses or any other evidence.'

"In the case of State ex rel. Hoover v. Chester, 39 S. C. 307, 17 S. E. 752, decided in 1893, the question was again considered. In a unanimous opinion the court overruled the Piatt and Hagood Cases, and adopted the enrolled bill rule in the following unmistakable language:

" 'We announce that the true rule is, that when an act has been duly signed by the presiding officers of the General Assembly, in open session in the Senate-House, approved by the Governor of the state, and duly deposited in the office of the secretary of state,...

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64 practice notes
  • Clarke v. South Carolina Pub. Serv. Auth., No. 14137.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 10, 1935
    ...the Constitution of South Carolina is a limitation upon, rather than a grant of, legislative power. See State v. Moorer, 152 S. C. 455, 150 S. E. 269; Wingfield v. Tax Commission, 147 S. C. 116, 144 S. E. 846; Battle v. Willcox, 128 S. C. 500, 122 S. E. 516; Xepapas v. Richardson, 149 S. C.......
  • State ex rel. Roddey v. Byrnes, No. 16521
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 9, 1951 seq., Code of 1942. Its validity was determined by an en banc Supreme Court in State ex rel. Richards v. Moorer, infra, 152 S.C. 455, 150 S.E. 269, certiorari denied 281 U.S. 691, 50 S.Ct. 238, 74 L.Ed. 1120. It is so similar in this respect as to constitute an exact precedent for the de......
  • Bolton v. Wharton, No. 13255.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 14, 1931
    ...C. 314, at page 318, 128 S. E. 712; Sullivan v. City Council of Charleston, 133 S. C. 1S9, 133 S. E. 340; State v. Moorer, 152 S. C. 455, 150 S. E. 269. The statute does not require that the note contain a pledge of the taxes. The language of the statute is that the city council may borrow ......
  • Boswell v. State, Case Number: 27935
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 21, 1937
    ..."special assessments upon property benefited by the improvement." The court went further in the case of State v. Moorer (S.C.) 150 S.E. 269, in sustaining the validity of an act which pledged, in addition to the proceeds of the gasoline tax and motor vehicle tax, "the full fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • Miles Laboratories v. Seignious, No. 981.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • December 15, 1939
    ...v. Sumter, 137 S.C. 266, 135 S.E. 60; Briggs v. Greenville County, 137 S.C. 288, 135 S.E. 153; State ex rel. Farr v. Moorer, 152 S.C. 455, 150 S.E. 269; Alley v. Daniel, 153 S.C. 217, 150 S.E....
  • Mills Mill v. Hawkins, No. 17312
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 19, 1957
    ...1952 Code. Respondents also cite, as authority for sustaining the act here under review, State ex rel. Richards v. Moorer, 152 S.C. 455, 150 S.E. 269, which was concerned with the [232 S.C. 547] issuance of certificates of indebtedness under the State Highway Act of March 14, 1929. But the ......
  • State Ex Rel. Edwards v. Query, No. 15806.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • February 28, 1946
    ...admonished her not to go near the water. Our leading case upon state highway financing is State ex rel. Richards v. Moorer, 152 S.C. 455, 150 S.E. 269, 287. It appears also to be a prime authority upon the value and importance of a legislative finding in the form of a preamble to an act. It......
  • Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 31083.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 5, 1949
    ...basis as to make the cost of the financing excessive.' The rule stated was approved in State ex rel. Richards v. Moorer, 152 S.C. 455, 150 S.E. 269, 285. This case again brought up for constitutional determination the highway act of South Carolina. The act considered was an amendment to the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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