Williamson v. Lee Optical of Ok., Inc.

348 U.S. 483, 75 S. Ct. 461 (1955)



The legislature may select one phase of one field and apply a remedy there, neglecting the others. The prohibition of the Equal Protection Clause goes no further than the invidious discrimination.


The optician sought to have Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 59, §§ 941-947 (1951) declared unconstitutional because the effect of § 941 was to forbid an optician from fitting or duplicating lenses without a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. In practical effect, it meant that no optician could fit old glasses into new frames or supply a lens without a prescription. The trial court found that portions of the statute were unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Did the statute violate equal protection?




The Court held that, although the law might have exacted a needless, wasteful requirement in many cases, it was for the legislature, not the courts, to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the new requirement. In reversing the judgment, the Court held that the law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the law's prohibition on the use of advertising for the sale of eyeglasses and lenses was constitutional because the legislature could treat all who dealt with the human eye as members of a profession who should use no merchandising methods for obtaining customers.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.