Law School Case Brief
Lee Optical of Okla., Inc. v. Williamson - 120 F. Supp. 128 (W.D. Okla. 1954)
To justify the state in thus interposing its authority in behalf of the public, it must appear-- First, that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require such interference; and, second, that the means are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose, and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.
The State of Oklahoma enacted legislation making it illegal for opticians to make prescription glasses without a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The legislation also made it unlawful for an eye care professional to lease space from a seller of eyeglasses. The opticians and the ophthalmologist claimed that the legislation violated the Equal Protection Clause. The state claimed that the legislation was a valid exercise of its police power.
Was the legislation in question a valid exercise of the State’s police power?
The court held that the prohibition against making and repairing glasses without a prescription bore no rational relation to the goal of ensuring that residents of the state receive the best possible visual care. According to the court, the means chosen in this particular instance was arbitrary and oppressive, and not reasonably adapted to the accomplishment of the end sought, that is, the abolition of corporate practice in the professions of ophthalmology and optometry. Moreover, the Court averred that the legislation's classification scheme violated equal protection because it unreasonably required that opticians only sell glasses upon written prescriptive authority while permitting the unsupervised sale of ready-to-wear eyeglasses. Hence, the court issued a declaration that the challenged provisions were unconstitutional and enjoined their enforcement by the state.
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