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together with the Controller. The members of this board hold office for four years. They visit as a board, or by the individual members thereof, each county in the State whenever deemed necessary, and there hear and decide complaints that may be brought before them by property owners as to unjust or unequal assessment of their property. They hold regular monthly meetings at the State capital, and from the first Monday in August to the first Monday in September are required to sit in daily session. Their duty at this meeting is to equalize the valuation of the taxable property of the several counties of the State.
160. Federal Taxation.—This subject has been sufficiently discussed in Part III.
THE THREE DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT.
161. Division of the Functions of Government.The powers or functions of government may be divided into three great classes: (1) The making of laws, or the legislative class; (2) the faithful carrying out of the laws, or the executive class; (3) the application of laws in the settlement of disputes, or the judicial class. When all these classes of powers are concentrated in the hands of one person or body of persons, an arbitrary and tyrannical exercise of them is much easier than when they are distributed among different bodies of persons. It is, therefore, a maxim in political science to intrust each of these classes of powers to a separate and independent department of government. Each department acts as a check upon the other departments, and the liberties of the people are thus much better guarded.
162. The Legislative Department.—Accordingly, both the Federal and State Constitutions recognize this principle, and provide for the separation of government into three departments—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Each of these departments acts under and in accordance with the Constitution by which it is created. The function of the legislative branch is to discuss questions of public policy, and to make such regulations and laws as will tend to promote the public welfare. In other words, it is the law-making body. The law-making body of the Union is Congress, and the law-making body of each of the States is its State Legislature. Congress is established by the Constitution of the United States, and passes laws in accordance with the powers granted to it by that document. The State Legislatures are established by the Constitutions of their respective States, and they may pass laws on all subjects, (1) where they are not forbidden by the Federal Constitution; (2) where they are not forbidden by the State Constitution; and (3) where such action would not be inconsistent with the powers granted by the Federal Constitution to Congress.
163. Division of the Legislature.-In order to insure care and reflection in the making of laws, it is customary to divide the legislative department into two branches, or houses. It is usual to give these two houses something of a different basis and character. And so, usually, one of the two houses is more numerous than the other. The larger house, too, is elected for a shorter term than the smaller. Both Congress and the State Legislatures are thus divided. In Congress, there is the Senate, composed of two members from each State, elected by the State Legislatures and holding office for six years; and there is the House of Representatives, composed of a number of members from each State, varying according to the population of the States, elected by the people of the State and holding office for two years. In the State Legislature of California, there is a Senate, composed of forty members, elected by the people, one Senator from each of the forty senatorial districts into which the State is divided, and holding office for four years; and the Assembly, composed of eighty members, elected by the people, one Assemblyman from each of the eighty assembly districts into which the State is divided, and holding office for two years.
Now, every measure proposed in either of these two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress, or the Senate and Assembly in the State Legislature, after having passed the house in which it is first proposed, must pass the other house also. The purpose of this arrangement is to secure as thorough deliberation as possible on every measure that is considered by the legislative body before it shall become a law of the State or nation.
164. The Executive Department.--The legislative body does not execute the laws which it has made; it directs what is to be done, and the manner in which it is to be done, and then leaves the actual carrying out of its acts to the executive department. The discussing and framing of measures for the public welfare requiring deliberation and interchange of opinion, the legislative body is composed of a large number of members. The enforcing of the laws requiring promptness and energy, this executive duty is intrusted to a single officer, who is assisted, of course, by a vast number of subordinate officials. The national executive is the President; the State executive, the Governor; and the city executive, the Mayor.
165. The Judicial Department. The majority of the laws made by the Legislature are for the purpose of defining and regulating the rights of individuals as between themselves, and the defining and punishing of offenses against the public peace and order. Authorities must, consequently, be provided, whose duty it shall be to decide questions of dispute that may arise between individuals as to what are their respective rights under the law, and to decide whether a person charged with a public offense has in fact committed the offense or has broken the law. These things involve an inquiry into the meaning of the law and the applying of the law to particular cases. These duties, of deciding controversies, administering justice, interpreting and applying the law, belong to the judicial department of the government. This judicial department consists of the courts of the State or of the nation, presided over by their respective judges.
166. Unconstitutional Legislation.—The Constitution of the State and the Constitution of the United States are the supreme law. Congress may pass laws only upon subjects over which it is given power by the Federal Constitution. The Legislature of the State is restrained by both the Federal and State Constitutions from making laws in certain cases. Therefore, in the discharge of the duties above mentioned, the courts may have to decide the question whether an act or law of Congress is within the powers given to Congress by the Federal Constitution, or whether an act or law of a State Legislature is inconsistent either with the State Constitution or the Federal Constitution, or with the grant of powers to Congress. If the court finds that an act of Congress was not authorized by the powers given to Congress in the Constitution, or that an act of the Legislature is inconsistent with the
provisions of either the Federal or the State Constitution, it must decide that the act was no law, or, as it is usually termed, was unconstitutional.
THE NATURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
167. Local Self-Government. — It is one of the distinguishing marks of the American form of government, following in this the English example, that the preservation of health and order, the protection of life and property, the actual administration of the law of the State in nearly all that concerns the safety, peace, comfort, and happiness of the citizens, is left to local authorities elected by the people of the local community. In the people of the State as a whole resides the ultimate power and authority, limited only by the Constitution of the United States and by that greater power which resides in the people of the whole Union as a nation. But the people of all the States, in framing their Constitutions and establishing their governments, have everywhere, in accordance with the instinct and traditions of the English-American race, made provision for a system of local self-government. The people of each county, or township, or city, elect their own officials for the application of the law and the administration of the affairs of the community. The State officers have, in general, no supervision of these local officers, and the latter are not responsible to the former, but solely to the people of the district by whom they have been elected.
168. Local Divisions of the State.—The names of the local divisions of the State differ somewhat in different States of the Union, and the distribution of functions