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justice therein at one uniform rate. All must find equal protection under the police laws of the country; equal protection from the army and navy; equal protection in his property rights and in liberty itself. There can be no discrimination in the use of the United States mail, except as to officials, and they are a part of the governmental institution. There is one fundamental principle that must pervade all proper national action, and that is that this is a government for all the people and not a government for a selected portion or class of citizens. Class distinctions seem to be running to excess under political encouragement and by the apparent approval of a large part of the citizens.
Class laws are passed and enforced which very able publicists believe to be out of harmony with the American system as ordained by the founders. Every one should realize that an act illegal at the hand of a single citizen would be equally illegal if done by any class of the people. A favor to a class should not be permitted, if denied to an individual or to another class of citizens. This is declared to be a land of freedom. How can this be if some are given liberty and others are bound under unjust restraint and discrimination? How can there be any clear and evident class distinctions under a constitution the offspring of 1776 and based on liberty and equality, and which were still more strongly guaranteed by the amendments gained by the great civil combat of 1861? There can be no assured liberty where class favoritism and distinctions are fostered and encouraged by the political opinion of the citizens.
This is not a government for John Doe and Richard Roe, but for all of the American people! The Pilgrim fathers before leaving the Mayflower signed a compact pledging their faith to establish a body politic
and thereby to enact “such just and equal laws” as shall be for the general good of the colony.
And in the famous Declaration of American Independence it is asserted that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Jefferson's thoughts seemed to dwell on creating a nation whose very corner-stone was equality. The whole absorbing idea in the building of the great republic was that men should be equal, and governed by laws conferring equality of privilege, equality of opportunity and equality of rights in all the public benefits growing out of national exertions and operations. The colonists had lived under a different system and yearned for liberty and political equality.
The first words of our Constitution are: We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice * promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution. Can we suppose that the whole body of the people made a constitution to grant the privileges and benefits of government, in any instance, to only a part of the people?
The whole tenor of the Constitution with the amendments, is in favor of equality of rights and privileges.
We note the following provisions:
1. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the " common defense and genral welfare of the United States.'
2. To establish uniform rules of naturalization and uniform laws on bankruptcy.
3. No bills of attainder shall be passed.
4. No capitation or direct tax shall be laid only in proportion to the census or enumeration.
5. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another. 6. No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.
7. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.
8. Congress shall make no law for the establishment of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech or the press.
9. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
10. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States. No state shall by law abridge the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.
11. The right to vote shall not be denied by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
These selected provisions show most conclusively the theory upon which the Constitution was adopted. It breathes, throughout, the spirit of equality and liberty. Liberty may in many ways be restrained for the good of the whole body politic; but equality, in a governmental sense, cannot be impaired without doing violence to the public welfare.
Suppose that toll exemption were now in force, as to the Panama Canal, and that the owner of an American ship engaged in foreign trade paid large taxes to the nation; and suppose the owner of a coastwise ship was so lacking in thrift as to pay only nominal taxes; could the nation legally or morally levy tolls against the former, and discharge the latter from all tolls and charges? What kind of a free government could justify such a proceeding? This would most surely be a robbing of Peter to pay Paul.
We are not making proper use of our perception, if we do not see the tendency of the departments of our state and national governments to run to class extremities. Even the wholesome anti-trust laws, passed for the purpose of enforcing equality of opportunity in business, must be amended so as to further intrench class exemptions and privileges. Such policies are not only most illogical but they are in a manner op
Note: The Federal Sup. Court on Nov. 1, 1915, decided that the Alien Labor Law of Arizona was an unjust class law and violated the equality provisions of the Constitution. This case supports the reasoning in the above chapter.
pressive. Conspiracy is conspiracy; theft is theft, whether the actor be rich or poor, great or small, a favorite at court or persona non grata.
In many affairs of state no one expects favoritism, all by intuition recognize equality of rights; but it is in the deviation from this correct rule that wrong and injustice begin. The continuous violation of the rule of equality and the creating of class distinctions must ultimately sap the foundations of any Republican government.
Public taxes should only be laid for public purposes. If our canal was built with public tax funds the use should not be donated to any special class, because to this extent it would be applied to private uses. Then we should have public taxes raised and appropriated to private uses, contrary to all constitutional theory and principles.
In Providence Bank v. Billings, 4 Peters, the Supreme Court laid down this wholesome doctrine: "The power of legislation, and consequently of taxation, operates on all persons and property belonging to the body politic. This is an original principle, which has its foundation in society itself. It is granted by all for the benefit of all.”
The government built the canal either with tax funds or with funds already in the treasury. If the former, then the canal was built for all without favor. If the latter, then the treasury funds belong to all the people, and when changed into canal property the people all still hold a common right therein and the services of the canal cannot be donated to one and not to all the owners. Equality in ownership demands equality of use and benefit.
In the case of the State v. Milwaukee Gas Co., 29 Wisconsin Rep. the court said: that the state can no
more tax the community, to set one class of men up in business than another; can no more subsidize one occupation than another; can no more make donations to the men who build railroads than it can make them to men who build stores and manufacturies. The above statement of the court is most thoroughly sound and legal. We have stated the constitutional rule to be, that the nation cannot build a canal with tax money and then discriminate between taxpayers in the services of the canal. Now this is finally a question for the national Supreme Court to decide, and should they decide that the nation has the right to make discrimination in rates, still, there would be a moral, just and political reason why there should be no favoritism shown in the rates between the citizens. Unquestionably the government is a trustee for the taxpayers, to build and operate the canal, and it cannot violate its trust and donate the use of the canal to one American and deny the same free use to another citizen. This is outside of any constitutional or economic question, and it is one that must be governed by the well-known rules and principles of equity. A trustee cannot give away the trust estate, but should deal fairly, and with the strictest impartiality to all.
As heretofore stated the Colonists sought a home on these shores to gain liberty denied them in England. They had been bound down by caste and class divisions at home, and the first thing when landing here they declared for equal and just laws. This sentiment had so grown at the time of the revolution, and of the formation of the nation, that equality was so wrought into the citizens as to become bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh.
It was declared in the great declaration of 1776 and ordained in the Constitution; and in the early days