Ferguson v. Skrupa

372 U.S. 726, 83 S. Ct. 1028 (1963)

 

RULE:

The United States Supreme Court is not concerned with the wisdom, need, or appropriateness of the legislation. Legislative bodies have broad scope to experiment with economic problems, and the Court does not sit to subject the State to an intolerable supervision hostile to the basic principles of the United States government and wholly beyond the protection which the general clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to secure. It is now settled that States have power to legislate against what are found to be injurious practices in their internal commercial and business affairs, so long as their laws do not run afoul of some specific federal constitutional prohibition, or of some valid federal law. 

FACTS:

A Kansas statute made it a misdemeanor for any person to engage in the business of debt adjusting, except as an incident to the lawful practice of law. Plaintiff  business owner alleged he was in the business of debt adjusting, that his business was a useful and desirable one, and that, therefore, the business could not be absolutely prohibited by the State. The district court ruled in favor of plaintiff and enjoined enforcement of the statute. On appeal from the district court's decision, the Court reversed.

ISSUE:

Is the Kansas statute an invalid exercise of police power which was within the scope of authority for the courts to decide?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The legislation did not violate the Due Process Clause. States had the power to legislate against what were found to be injurious practices in their internal commercial and business affairs so long as their laws did not run afoul of some specific federal constitutional prohibition or of some valid federal law. When the subject lay within the State's police power, debatable questions as to reasonableness were not for the courts but for the legislature. The Court further held that the statute's exception of lawyers did not constitute a denial of equal protection of the laws to non-lawyers. Statutes created many classifications that did not deny equal protection; it was only invidious discrimination that offended the Constitution.

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