an act are not mutually dependent upon each other and the valid portions are capable of separate enforcement, the latter are never, especially in revenue laws, declared void because of invalid portions of the law; and (b) an act passed by a coordinate branch of government has every presumption in its favor and should never be declared invalid by the courts unless its repugnancy to the Constitution is clear beyond all reasonable doubt. Thus Jackson argued that the Court had erred in striking down the entire act while provisions remained which were clearly constitutional and, secondly, that the previous tax decisions of the Court and the long-continued compliance of the government with the principles laid down in those decisions, if they did not settle the question now before the Court, at least raised "such a doubt on the subject as should restrain the court from declaring the act unconstitutional."
Jackson spoke for forty-five minutes, his words often interrupted by coughing attacks which left him at times unable to proceed. Yet in spite of the difficulty there appeared a warmth of involvement and an intensity of conviction that few of his prior opinions had revealed. The majority decision, he said, disregards the great principle of equality in taxation; it disregards the principle that in the imposition of taxes for the benefit of government the burdens thereof should be imposed upon those having most ability to bear them; it takes from the government an important portion of its most vital and essential power. It is, he concluded, in a tone of anger and lament, "the most disastrous blow ever struck at the constitutional power of Congress."
The train ride back to West Meade was dishearteningly quiet. The Justice's vigorous dissent had won wide praise and assured him kindly treatment at the hands of future commentators, but his health had deteriorated during the past two weeks and the futility of the effort provided little incentive with which to uplift the spirit beyond the pains of the body. He held feebly to life for little less than three months and on August 8, 1895, died.
Not unexpectedly, biographical material on Justice Jackson is limited. H. M. Doak, "Howell Edmunds Jackson," 1897 Proceedings of the Bar Association of Tennessee 76, is a typical nineteenth-century biographical sketch written with an admiring hand by a close friend. An earlier version of the piece can be found in 5 Green Bag 209 ( 1893). An account of Jackson's life in "Two United States Circuit Judges," 18 Tennessee Law Review 311 ( 1944) adds little to the information presented in the Doak articles. The commemorative proceedings held in the Supreme Court on the death of Justice Jackson can be found at 159 U.S. 703 ( 1895). A partial recounting of the correspondence between Jackson and the chief justice regarding the former's return to the bench to take part in the Pollock rehearing is set forth in Willard R. King, Melville Weston Fuller ( New York, 1950), pp. 207 ff
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Publication information: Book title: The Justices of the United States Supreme Court:Their Lives and Major Opinions. Volume: 2. Contributors: Leon Friedman - Editor, Fred L. Israel - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 804.
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