253 U.S. 233, 40 S.Ct. 499, 64 L.Ed. 878 ( 1920)
In 1919 the legislature of North Dakota passed a series of acts that authorized the following: creation of an industrial commission with the power to operate certain utilities and industries to be established, and the power to fix buying and selling prices; establishment of a bank to be operated by the state; issuance of bank and real estate bonds to provide capital for the mortgage loan activities of the bank; entry by the state into the business of manufacturing and marketing farm products, and the power to issue bonds for financing this venture; the creation of a Home Building Association to facilitate the building of homes. Green, a taxpayer, brought suit charging that these various objectives did not constitute a public purpose, and that taxation to support such activities constituted a taxing of property without due process of law. The State Supreme Court upheld the legislation. Green brought the case to the Supreme Court on a writ of error.
MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court. . . .
. . . The only ground of attack involving the validity of the legislation which requires our consideration concerns the alleged deprivation of rights secured to the plaintiffs by the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution. It is contended that taxation under the laws in question has the effect of depriving plaintiffs of property without due process of law. . . .
There are certain principles which must be borne in mind in this connection, and which must control the decision of this court upon the federal question herein involved. This legislation was adopted under the broad power of the state to enact laws raising by taxation such sums as are deemed necessary to promote purposes essential to the general welfare of its people. Before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment this power of the state was unrestrained by any federal authority. That Amendment introduced a new limitation upon state power into the federal Constitution. The states were forbidden to deprive persons of life, liberty and property without due process of law. What is meant by due process of law this court has had frequent occasion to consider, and has always declined to give a precise meaning, preferring to leave its scope to judicial decisions when cases from time to time arise. . . .
The due process of law clause contains no specific limitation upon the right of taxation in the states, but it has come to be settled that the authority of the states to tax does not include the right to impose taxes for merely private purposes. . . .
The taxing power of the states is primarily vested in their legislatures, deriving their authority from the people. When a state legislature acts within the