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Co-ordinated Transport, Inc. v. Barrett





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. HARRY C. DANIELS, Judge, presiding.


This is a direct appeal by the Secretary of State, the sheriff of Kane County, and the commanding officer of the second district of the State Highway Police of the State of Illinois, defendants below, from a final decree of the circuit court of Kane County which declared unconstitutional and void an act of the Sixty-seventh General Assembly, approved by the Governor of Illinois on July 9, 1951, entitled "An Act to amend Sections 9, 11a and 20 and to repeal Sections 9b, 9c, 9d, 9e, 9f, 9g, 9h, 9i, 9j, 9k and 9l of the `Motor Vehicle Law,' approved June 30, 1919, as amended," (Laws of 1951, p. 1147,) and which enjoined and restrained the defendants from attempting to enforce the provisions of said act and from interfering with or from stopping or attempting to stop the plaintiffs from using the highways of the State of Illinois by reason of noncompliance with said act, and permanently enjoining the defendants, their agents, servants and employees from instituting any action, civil or criminal, against the plaintiffs under said act.

The decree found, as was alleged in the complaint, that the act was in violation of the provisions of section 8 of article I, and section 1 of amendment XIV of the constitution of the United States and of article III, section 2 of article II, sections 1, 2, 3, and 10 of article IX, and section 13 of article IV of the constitution of the State of Illinois, and therefore unconstitutional, void, and of no legal force.

Each of the issues as to unconstitutionality presented in the pleadings, briefs and arguments in the instant case was presented to and decided by this court in its recent decision in the case of Bode v. Barrett, 412 Ill. 204, opinion rendered March 20, 1952, with the exception of the issue raised under section 13 of article IV of the Illinois constitution.

The plaintiffs in the present case constitute more than fifty motor vehicle carriers representing most every type of such carrier in the State of Illinois. The parties do not sue in their representative capacity, as they did in the Bode case, but the relief sought is the same as that prayed for in that case. The fact that the economic interests of many of the plaintiffs in this case are not identical with the economic interests of the parties to the Bode case does not change the character of the constitutional issues presented and argued in each of the cases.

The testimony of fourteen plaintiff truck operators of various classes and a large volume of documentary evidence was introduced on behalf of the plaintiffs; also two bankers testified to the curtailment of truck loans after the enactment of the amendatory statute. Plaintiffs rely strongly upon the testimony of Professor Worley of the University of Michigan, as presenting an altogether different factual picture than that relied upon by the plaintiffs in the Bode case. Professor Worley, an engineer, for the past five years has been identified with numerous State trucking associations. Worley advances a theory and formula upon which a motor vehicle tax schedule can be based. He takes the position that the plan involved in the legislation under consideration is arbitrary and unreasonable. Professor Worley admitted on cross-examination that his theory was highly controversial, and that there was an honest difference of opinion among scientific experts as to the relative merits of the various theories of taxation in this particular field. The record in this case contains the testimony of Frank N. Barker, Chief Highway Engineer of the State of Illinois, which is the same as reported in the Bode case.

Without prolonging this opinion with a discussion of the details of the two schools of thought on what constitutes a rational, reasonable and fair motor vehicle license fee, suffice it to say that it clearly becomes a legislative function to choose the one that serves better the needs of the legislation under review. The legislature in this matter has a broad range of discretion and is free to adopt the theory it believes, from its study and exercise of legislative discretion, to be the best. As we said in Melton v. City of Paris, 333 Ill. 190, 198: "A court will not hold an ordinance void and unreasonable where there is room for a fair difference of opinion upon the question, even though the correctness of the legislative judgment may be doubtful and the court may regard the ordinance as not the best which might be adopted for the purpose."

In Sproles v. Binford, 286 U.S. 374, a Texas statute forbade operation of any motor vehicle carrying a net load of freight exceeding seven thousand pounds. This was attacked as violative of the commerce clause and the fourteenth amendment of the Federal constitution. It was contended that the net load limitation, as contrasted with a possible gross load limitation, was "opposed to sound engineering opinion" and hence invalid. In overruling this contention the court said (page 388): "Limitations of size and weight are manifestly subjects within the broad range of legislative discretion. To make scientific precision a criterion of constitutional power would be to subject the State to an intolerable supervision hostile to the basic principles of our Government and wholly beyond the protection which the general clause of the 14th Amendment was intended to secure."

Again, the Supreme Court of the United States in Capitol Greyhound Lines v. Brice, 339 U.S. 542, 546, in discussing factors involved in State motor vehicle tax formulas, said: "These factors, like those relevant in considering the constitutionality of other State taxes, are so countless that we must be content with `rough approximation' rather than precision."

This court, in the Bode opinion, disposed of this precise question adversely to the contentions of the plaintiffs herein. The new evidence offered in the present proceedings does not warrant a reversal of the views there expressed.

The only issue which was not presented to and considered by this court in its decision of the Bode case is the contention that the 1951 amendment violates that portion of section 13 of article IV of the Illinois constitution which provides as follows: "No Act hereafter passed shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title. * * * No law shall be revised or amended by reference to its title only but the law revised or the section amended shall be inserted at length in the new Act."

The title of the 1951 amendment is as heretofore set out in the first paragraph of this opinion. The title of the Motor Vehicle Act of 1919, to which the title of the 1951 amendment refers, is "An Act in relation to motor vehicles and to repeal a certain Act therein named."

The first argument of the plaintiffs in respect to this contention is that the act embraces both the subject of police regulations and the subject of revenue, and that the subject of revenue is not embraced in the title of the amendment.

The principles of law applicable generally to this question have been well stated as follows (50 Am. Jur., Statutes, sec. 197, p. 178, et seq.): "The constitutional prohibition of more than one subject in an act does not impose any limitation on the comprehensiveness of the subject, which may be as comprehensive as the legislature chooses to make it, provided it constitutes, in the constitutional sense, a single subject and not several. To constitute plurality of subject, an act must embrace two or more dissimilar and discordant subjects, that by no fair intendment can be considered as having any legitimate connection with or relation to each other. Within the meaning of the constitutional provision, matters which apparently constitute distinct and separate subjects are not so where they are not incongruous and diverse to each other. Generally speaking, the courts are agreed that a statute may include every matter germane, referable, auxiliary, incidental, or subsidiary to, and not inconsistent with, or foreign to, the general subject or object of the act. The constitutional provision is not intended, nor should it be so construed as, to prevent the legislature from embracing in one act all matters properly connected with one general subject or object, but the term `subject' or `object' as used in these provisions is to be given a broad and extended meaning, so as to allow the legislature full scope to include in one act all matters fairly, reasonably, naturally, logically, properly, or directly or indirectly connected with, or related to, each other or the same subject or object. The statute embraces but one subject or object where the matters included are such that, if traced back, they will lead the mind to the subject as the generic head. On the other ...

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