Cahen v. Brewster, 203 U.S. 543 (1906)
U.S. Supreme CourtCahen v. Brewster, 203 U.S. 543 (1906)
Cahen v. Brewster
Argued November 9, 1906
Decided December 24, 1906
203 U.S. 543
While, under former decisions of this Court, the nature of inheritance taxes has been defined, those decisions do not prescribe the time of their imposition. To have done so would have been to usurp a legislative power not possessed by this Court. A state may exercise its power to impose an inheritance tax at any time during which it holds the property from the legatee, and the Louisiana
inheritance tax law is not void as a deprivation of property without use process of law within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment as to legatees of decedents dying prior to its enactment, but whose estate were still undistributed.
A statute imposing a succession tax is not void as against estates not closed, as denying equal protection of the laws, because it does not affect estates which had been actually closed at the time of its enactment.
When the state court which has delivered two decisions declares that the later does not overrule, but distinguishes, the earlier, which it states was decided on considerations having no application to the later one, both decisions must be considered as correct interpretations of the statute construed, and it is not the province of this Court to pronounce them contradictory or one to be more decisive than the other.
The facts are stated in the opinion.