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people of the state who adopted, the amendment, already knew that the section contained the 5 per cent. limitation. Now, the members of the Legislature and the people must be presumed to have acted intelligently, and with a knowledge as to what they were doing. They could vote intelligently upon the proposition as to whether 10 per cent. should be added to the 5 per cent. limitation for water purposes; but if we adopt the contention of counsel on the part of the city that they intended to fix a 10 per cent. limitation for water purposes upon the assessed valuation of property within the municipality, regardless of the existing indebtedness, how could they have acted or voted intelligently? No member of the Legislature knew what the existing indebtedness of any particular municipality or district referred to in said section amounted to, and yet we are urged to hold that they intended to limit the power to tax for water purposes to 10 per cent. upon the assessed valuation, regardless of existing indebtedness. For example, take the city in this case. Its indebtedness in 1903 appears to have been nearly 15 per cent. of its assessed valuation. To adopt the construction contended for by the city, this amendment would authorize the city of Sioux Falls to have incurred a 10 per cent. indebtedness in addition to the 15 per cent. That is, although the Constitution had limited its indebtedness for general purposes to 5 per cent., and for water purposes to 10 per cent. additional, it could lawfully impose a taxation of 25 per cent., so that if, as contended by counsel for the city, the 10 per cent. limitation is regardless of existing indebtedness, we have a limitation of 25 per cent. Of what account are constitutional limitations upon the power to incur indebtedness if this state of affairs can exist?
It is contended that the members of the Legislature who proposed, and the people who voted upon, the amendments both of 1896 and 1902, must have known that many municipalities had already exceeded the 5 per cent. constitutional limitation, and that they amended the section with that knowledge. We think this proves too much. Is it to be presumed that the members of the Legislature who proposed, and the people who voted upon, these amendments, had no care whatever as to whether any municipality had exceeded this 5 per cent. limitation? If they knew that the city of Sioux Falls was indebted to an extent amounting to 15 per cent. of the assessed valuation of its taxable property, did they intend to give its officers the authority to confiscate all the property of the citizens of Sioux Falls by increasing the 15 per cent. to 25 per cent.? We should hesitate very long before we should find that the members of the Legislature who proposed, and the people who voted upon, the amendments intended any such result.
It is contended that to say that the 10 per cent. limitation of the amendment was to be additional to the 5 per cent. limit would have conferred unequal benefits upon the different municipalties and other subdivisions mentioned in the amendments. The only presumption for courts to indulge in in construing constitutions and statutes is to presume that the members of the Legislature or the people intended no violation of law when they acted, nor intended to ratify or indorse violations of law. If we must presume that they knew
anything about the matter, we must presume that they knew the limitation was 5 per cent., and that they did not know that municipilities and other subdivisions had already violated the Constitution.
There is another reason, we think, why the amendments should be construed as a limitation to 10 per cent. in addition to the 5 per cent. in the general section, and that is, section 17 of article 6 of the Constitution of South Dakota reads as follows:
"No tax or duty shall be imposed without consent of the people, or their representatives in the Legislature, and all taxation shall be equal and uni
Different sections of a Constitution must be construed, if possible, with reference to the whole Constitution. They must be so construed as to give effect to all sections of the instrument. Here is a mandate of the people, expressed in their Constitution, that all taxation shall be equal and uniform. By section 4, art. 13, of the Constitution, we have a limitation of 5 per cent. If we construe the amendment as giving an additional 10 per cent. for waterworks purposes to the 5 per cent., we have, so far as the law is concerned, an equal and uniform law of taxation. Property may be taxed for general purposes to the limit of 5 per cent. The indebtedness may ascend for water purposes to 15 per cent. Now, if the contention that the 10 per cent. limitation is exclusive of existing indebtedness shall obtain, then, notwithstanding the limitation in section 4 of 5 per cent., and a 10 per cent. limitation, the city of Sioux Falls may impose a tax upon its citizens of nearly 25 per cent. This certainly would create a great lack of uniformity among the several municipalities of the state in regard to the limit of their indebtedness. The absolute absurdity of the contention appears when we consider the language of section 4, where it appears that the municipalities therein mentioned shall never exceed 5 per cent., and then say that a city that has violated this section by an excess of 10 per cent. over the 5 per cent. limit may still raise the indebtedness 10 per cent. more. This would make the proviso destroy the main section, for it would directly. sanction the unlawful indebtedness already existing over 5 per cent. Instead of wandering from the plain chart made by the people into the realms of speculation in order to find the meaning of the section, let us look at the chart itself. There the meaning is clear. The limitations upon the power of the people to tax themselves should not be construed so as to destroy the limitations themselves. It will be profitable at this point to quote from the language of the Supreme Court in Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U. S. 670, 9 Sup. Ct. 652, 32 L. Ed. 1060:
"We are unable to adopt the constructive interpolations ingeniously offered by counsel for defendant in error. Why not assume that the framers of the Constitution and the people who voted it into existence meant exactly what it says? At the first glance, its reading produces no impression of doubt as to its meaning. It seems all sufficiently plain, and in such case there is a wellsettled rule which we must observe. The object of construction, applied to a Constitution, is to give effect to the intent of its framers, and of the people in adopting it. This intent is to be found in the instrument itself. And when the text of a constitutional provision is not ambiguous, the courts, in giving construction thereto, are not at liberty to search for the meaning beyond the
instrument. To get at the thought or meaning expressed in a statute a contract, or a Constitution, the first resort, in all cases, is to the natural signification of the words in the order of grammatical arrangement in which the framers of the instrument have placed them. If the words convey a definite meaning, which involves no absurdity, nor any contradiction of other parts of the instruments, then that meaning, apparent on the face of the instrument, must be accepted; and neither the courts nor the Legislature have the right to add to it or take from it. Newell v. People, 7 N. Y. 9, 97; Hills v. Chicago, 60 Ill. 86; Dean v. Reid, 10 Pet. 524, 9 L. Ed. 519; Leonard v. Wiseman, 31 Md. 201, 204; People v. Potter, 47 N. Y. 375; Cooley, Const. Lim. 57; Story on Const. § 400; Beardstown v. Virginia, 76 Ill. 34. So, also, where a law is expressed in plain and unambiguous terms, whether those terms are general or implied, the Legislature should be intended to mean what they have plainly expressed, and consequently no room is left for construction. United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358, 399, 2 L. Ed. 304; Doggett v. Florida Railroad, 99 U. S. 72, 25 L. Ed. 301. There is even stronger reason for adhering to this rule in the case of a Constitution than in that of a statute, since the latter is passed by a deliberate body of small numbers, a large proportion of whose members are more or less conversant with the niceties of construction and discrimination, and fuller opportunity exists for attention and revision of such a character, while Constitutions, although framed by conventions, are yet created by the votes of the entire body of electors in a state, the most of whom are little disposed, even if they were able, to engage in such refinements. The simplest and most obvious interpretation of a Constitution, if in itself sensible, is the most likely to be that meant by the people in its adoption."
In Law v. People, 87 Ill. 385, the Supreme Court of Illinois said: "But should it work hardship to individuals, that by no means warrants the violation of a plain and emphatic provision of the Constitution. The liberty of the citizen and his security in all his rights in a large degree depend upon the rigid adherence to the provisions of the Constitution and the laws and their faithful performance. If courts, to avoid hardships, may disregard and refuse to enforce their provisions, then the security of the citizen is imperiled. Then the will-it may be the unbridled will-of the judge would usurp the place of the Constitution and the laws, and the violation of the provision is liable to speedily become a precedent for another, perhaps more flagrant, until all constitutional and legal barriers are destroyed, and none are secure in their rights. Nor are we justified in resorting to strained construction or astute interpretation to avoid the intention of the framers of the Constitution, or the statutes adopted under it, even to relieve against individual or local hardships. If unwise or hard in their operation, the power that adopted can repeal or amend and remove the inconvenience. The power to do so has been wisely withheld from the courts, their function only being to enforce the laws as they find them enacted."
In opposition to our view of the meaning of section 4 of the Constitution we are cited to the cases of Wells v. City of Sioux Falls (S. D.) 94 N. W. 425; People v. City Council (Utah) 64 Pac. 460; Graham v. Spokane (Wash.) 53 Pac. 714; Smith v. City of Seattle (Wash.) 65 Pac. 612.
Wells v. City of Sioux Falls is a decision of the Supreme Court of South Dakota rendered April 7, 1903, and in which decision the said court construes section 4 of article 13, now under consideration, with reference to the point as to the meaning of the additional 10 per cent. limitation. The court in that case arrives at the conclusion that the 10 per cent. limitation is independent of the 5 per cent. limitation and confers authority to tax for water purposes up to the limit of 10 per cent. of the assessed valuation of taxable property in the municipalities mentioned, irrespective of existing indebtedness, whether within the limit of 5 per cent. or in excess thereof. We
may admit that where, as a general proposition, the construction or validity of a state statute does not involve rights acquired upon the faith of the statute or earlier decisions, it is the duty of the federal courts to accept the decisions of the higher court of the state in regard to the construction of state statutes; but in the case at bar the rights of complainant and the water company became vested long prior to the decision in the Wells Case, and the original bill and original cross-bill were filed long prior to the commencement of or decision in the Wells Case, and we are bound in this proceeding to exercise our own independent judgment as to the meaning of the constitutional provision in question. Burgess v. Seligman, 107 U. S. 33, 2 Sup. Ct. 10, 27 L. Ed. 359; Bartholomew v. City of Austin, 85 Fed. 359, 29 C. C. A. 568; City of Ottumwa v. City Water Supply Co., 119 Fed. 324, 56 C. C. A. 219, 59 L. R. A. 604; Speer v. Board County Commissioners, 88 Fed. 760, 32 C. C. A. 101; Pleasant Township v. Ætna Life Ins. Co., 138 U. S. 67, 11 Sup. Ct. 215, 34 L. Ed. 864; Louisville Trust Co. v. City of Cincinnati, 76 Fed. 296, 22 C. C. A. 334; Jones v. Hotel Co., 86 Fed. 370, 30 C. C. A. 108; Great Southern Fire Proof Hotel Co. v. Jones, 193 U. S. 532, 24 Sup. Ct. 576, 48 L. Ed. 778; Columbia Ave. Sav. Fund Co. v. City of Dawson (C. C.) 130 Fed. 166. It would cause this opinion to become too long to quote extracts from the cases cited, but they firmly establish the principle here laid down. It seems to us that the construction placed upon the amendment by the Supreme Court of South Dakota would entirely obliterate the word "additional" from the section, and, with due respect to the judgment of the Supreme Court of South Dakota, we cannot follow its interpretation of the section. The case of Wells v. City of Sioux Falls we have the right to characterize as a friendly litigation for the purpose, no doubt, of obtaining the opinion of the Supreme Court as to the proper interpretation to place upon section 4, and also for the purpose of having an interpretation placed upon it which was favorable to the issuance of the bonds. The record shows that the summons was issued and the complaint verified on January 16, 1903, and the answer was duly verified and filed on the 17th day of the same month. A demurrer was interposed by plaintiff in that suit to the answer of the defendant, and the circuit court for Minnehaha county, S. D., overruled the demurrer the same day on which the answer was filed. An undertaking on appeal was waived by stipulation of counsel, and on the same day, to wit, the 17th day of January, 1903, the case was appealed, and the record certified to the Supreme Court of the state, and on the 7th day of April, 1903, the judgment of the Supreme Court was rendered affirming the judgment of the court below. We are well aware that cases in courts may be expedited, but as long as the question to be decided was involved in this action, what need was there of so much haste? Litigants in the federal tribunals cannot under the circumstances of this case be foreclosed in such a manner.
As to the proper construction to be placed upon constitutional limitations, the following cases can be read with profit: Dudley v. Board of Commissioners, 80 Fed. 672, 26 C. C. A. 82; People v. May, 9 Colo. 80, 10 Pac. 641; Sutliff v. Commissioners, 147 U. S. 230, 13
Sup. Ct. 318, 37 L. Ed. 145; Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U. S. 662, 9 Sup. Ct. 651, 32 L. Ed. 1060.
For the reasons thus stated, we are of the opinion that, as the city of Sioux Falls had an existing indebtedness, at the time the so-called waterworks bonds were issued, of nearly 15 per cent. of the assessed valuation of taxable property in said city for the year 1902, said city had no power to incur the indebtedness, and therefore no power to construct and maintain a system of waterworks.
We are also of the opinion that the people of the city of Sioux Falls never voted upon the proposition, as required by the Constitution, as to whether they would incur an indebtedness in the sum of $210,000 for the construction of a system of waterworks in said city, for the reasons (a) that no election was held for the purpose of voting upon said proposition after the adoption of the amendment to the Constitution of 1902; and (b) that, if the election held November 5, 1901, would authorize the issuance of bonds after the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1902, then that the people never voted upon the proposition as to whether they would incur an indebtedness to construct waterworks, for the reason that the proposition submitted to them was whether the city of Sioux Falls should issue its bonds to the amount of $210,000 for the purpose of constructing, equipping, maintaining, and operating or purchasing a system of waterworks to provide water for domestic uses. Section 4 of article 13, as it was amended in 1902, contained this provision, as already quoted in the statement of facts:
"Provided further, that no county, municipal corporation, civil township, district or subdivision shall be included within such district or subdivision without a majority vote in favor thereof of the electors of the county, municipal corporation, civil township, district or other subdivision, as the case may be, which is proposed to be included therein, and no such debt shall ever be incurred for any of the purposes in this section provided, unless authorized by a vote in favor thereof by a majority of the electors of such county, municipal corporation, civil township, district or subdivision incurring the same."
The same section was also amended at the same time by changing the language of the first proviso so that the limit of indebtedness should be 10 per cent. upon the assessed valuation of the taxable property therein for the year preceding that in which said indebtedness is incurred, while the proviso of the amendment adopted in 1896 said nothing about the year in which the assessed valuation should be taken, but from its language it would mean the assessed valuation of taxable property in the year in which the indebtedness was incurred, if an assessment had been made. This amendment to section 4, art. 13, in 1902, operated prospectively, and required legislative action in order to carry out its provisions; but the prohibitory limitation that the 10 per cent. limit should only be expended for the purposes mentioned, unless authorized by a vote in favor thereof by the majority of the electors of such county, municipal corporation, civil township, district, or subdivision incurring the same, was selfexecuting, and operated directly upon all municipalities or subdivisions mentioned in the section, so that from and after the date of the adoption of the amendment no indebtedness could be incurred unless it was authorized by a vote, as stated in the amendment. The