Imagens das páginas

CONSTITUTIONAL CONSTRUCTION. The constitution of this state, unlike the federal constitution, is not to be considered as a grant of power, but rather as a limitation upon the powers of the legislature. (People v. Coleman, 4 Cal. 46; People v. Jewett, 6 Cal. 291; People v. Rogers, 13 Cal. 159; People v. Twelfth District Court, 17 Cal. 547; Bourland v. Hildreth, 26 Cal. 161; Ex parte McCarthy, 29 Cal. 395.)

It is, however, to be considered as a grant of power to the other branches of the government. (People v. Jewett, 6 Cal. 291.)

Words and phrases.-Where a word, having a technical, as well as a popular, meaning, is used in the constitution, the courts will accord to it its popular meaning, unless the nature of the subject indicates, or the context suggests, that it is used in its technical sense. (Weill v. Kenfield, 54 Cal. 111; Oakland Pav. Co. v. Hilton, 69 Cal. 479, 11 Pac. 3; Oakland Pav. Co. v. Tompkins, 72 Cal. 5, 12 Pac. 801; Miller v. Dunn, 72 Cal. 462, 14 Pac. 27.; People v. Eddy, 43 Cal. 331.)

Prospective construction.—Provisions of the constitution are to be considered prospective and not retrospective unless a contrary intention clearly appears. (Gurnee v. Superior Court, 58 Cal.

- Α

Reasonable construction. - A construction should be adopted which tends to certainty, security, and substantial justice, in preference to that which involves uncertainty, insecurity, and inevitable injustice. (San Gabriel Co. v. Wit.

v mer Co., 96 Cal. 623, 29 Pac. 500, 31 Pac. 588.)

But where a provision is plain and unambiguous, it cannot be changed by the courts to avoid what may seem to be an absurdity or injustice. (Moran v. Ross, 79 Cal. 549, 21 Pac. 958.)

All the provisions of the constitution must be read together, and effect given to all of them. They must receive a practical common-sense construction, and be considered with reference to the prior state of the law, and the mischief intended to be remedied. (People v. Stephens, 62 Cal.

. 209; French v. Teschemaker, 24 Cal. 518.)

MEANS OF CONSTRUCTION—Debates of the convention. The debates of the constitutional convention may be referred to for the purpose of construing the provisions of the constitution. (People v. Chapman, 61 Cal. 262; People v. Stephens, 62 Cal. 209; Isola v. Webber, 13 Misc. Rep. 100; Higgins v. Prater, 91 Ky. 6; State v. Doron, 5 Nev. 399.)

Judicial decisions .—Where a provision of the former constitution, which has received a judicial construction, is copied into the new constitution, it will be presumed that it was adopted in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

view of that construction. (Sharon v. Sharon, 67 Cal. 185, 7 Pac. 456, 8 Pac. 709; Thomason v. Ruggles, 69 Cal. 465, 11 Pac. 20; Lord v. Dunster, 79 Cal. 477, 21 Pac. 865; People v. Freeman, 80 Cal. 233, 22 Pac. 173; People v. O'Brien, 96 Cal. 171, 31 Pac. 45; Morton v. Broderick, 118 Cal. 474, 50 Pac. 644; Ex parte Ahern, 103 Cal. 412, 37 Pac. 390; People v. Edwards, 93 Cal. 153, 28 Pac. 831; Palache v. Hunt, 64 Cal. 473, 2 Pac. 245.)

The mere fact that a change is made in the phraseology of such provision by subsequent revision will not be deemed a change in the law, unless such phraseology evidently purports an intention to make a change. (Hyatt v. Allen, 54

( Cal. 353.)

The same rule applies to provisions of the constitution borrowed from the constitutions of other states, and where such provisions have received judicial construction in such states, they are to be deemed to have been adopted in view of such construction. (People v. Coleman, 4 Cal. 46; People v. Webb, 38 Cal. 467; Ex parte Liddell, 93 Cal. 633, 29 Pac. 251.)

The exposition of the constitution by the highest court in existence under it, with regard to laws passed while it was in force, should be accepted by all succeeding courts, without regard to their own views as to the correctness of the doctrine. (Staude v. Election Commrs., 61 Cal.

[ocr errors]

313; Emery v. Reed, 65 Cal. 351, 4 Pac. 200; Davis v. Superior Court, 63 Cal. 581. See, also, Ferris v. Coover, 11 Cal. 175.)

Legislative construction.—Legislative construction of a constitutional provision is a method of interpretation. (Moran v. Ross, 79 Cal. 159, 21 Pac. 547; San Luis Obispo Co. v. Darke, 76 Cal. 92, 18 Pac. 118; Lord v. Dunster, 79 Cal. 477, 21 Pac. 865; Washington v. Page, 4 Cal. 388.)

But this does not mean that the hasty and inconsiderate legislation of three winters shall be conclusive of the constitutionality of such legislation. (People v. Wells, 2 Cal. 198, 208.)

POWER TO DECLARE STATUTES UNCONSTITUTIONAL-A government with no limits but its own discretion is not a constitutional government, in the true sense of the term. (Billings v. Hall, Cal. 1.)

The constitution is a law, and must be construed by some one, and the judiciary possesses the power to construe it in all cases not expressly, or by necessary implication, reserved to the other departments. (Nougues v. Douglass, y Cal. 65; McCauley v. Brooks, 16 Cal. 11.)

But where the right to determine the extent and effect of a restriction in the constitution is expressly or by necessary implication confided to the legislature, the judiciary has no right to in

[ocr errors]


terfere with the legislative construction. (Nougues v. Douglass, 7 Cal. 65.)

In declaring a statute unconstitutional, the court cannot interfere with the exercise of the political power of the legislature. (Nougues v. Douglass, Cal. 65.)

The courts can declare a statute unconstitutional only when the question arises as a pure matter of law unmixed with matters of fact. (Stevenson y. Colgan, 91 Cal. 649, 27 Pac. 1089.)

Therefore, the constitutionality of a statute can be determined only from the facts appearing upon the face of the law, taken in connection with matters of which the court can take judicial notice. (Bourn v. Hart, 93 Cal. 321, 28 Pac. 951; Stevenson v. Colgan, 91 Cal. 649, 27 Pac. 1089; Conlin v. Supervisors, 99 Cal. 17, 33 Pac. 753; Fowler v. Peirce, 2 Cal. 165.)

But, while the courts may declare statutes unconstitutional, they have no power to avoid the effects of nonaction on the part of the legislature. (Myers v. English, 9 Cal. 341.)

Presumption of constitutionality -An act of the legislature is presumed to be constitutional. (In re Madera Irr. Dist., 92 Cal. 296, 28 Pac. 272; People v. Hayne, 83 Cal. 111, 23 Pac. 1.)

A statute will not be declared unconstitutional, except when the conflict between it and the constitution is palpable and incapable of reconcilia

« AnteriorContinuar »