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siderations, and justice and good policy alike require that the protection of the law should be assured to it.

Judgment was given for the Chenango Bridge Company.

Note.-Most State Constitutions adopted since this decision provide that all charters granted by the State are subject to the right of the State to alter, amend and repeal the same.


97 U. S., 25. 1877.

The charter of the Boston Beer Company, granted in 1828, gave it the privilege of manufacturing malt liquors in Boston. In 1869 Massachusetts passed a prohibitory liquor law which prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors anywhere within the State. Under this law a seizure was made of certain malt liquors of the Boston Beer Company. The company contended that the seizure was illegal because the Act of 1869 impaired the obligation of the contract contained in its charter of 1828, in violation of the contract clause of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts decided adversely to the Beer Company, whereupon a writ of error was prosecuted to the Supreme Court of the United States.

MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.

The plaintiff in error was incorporated "for the purpose of manufacturing malt liquors in all their varieties," it is true; and the right to manufacture, undoubtedly, as the plaintiff's counsel contends, included the incidental right to dispose of the liquors manufactured. But although this right or capacity was thus granted in the most unqualified form, it cannot be construed as conferring any greater or more sacred right than any citizen had to manufacture malt liquor; nor as exempting the corporation from any control therein to which a citizen would be subject, if the interests of the community should require it. If the public safety or the public morals require the discontinuance of any manufacture or traffic, the hand of the legislature cannot be stayed from providing for its discontinuance, by any incidental inconvenience which individuals or corporations may suffer. All rights are held subject to the police power of the State.

We do not mean to say that property actually in existence, and in which the right of the owner has become vested, may be taken for the public good without due compensation. But we infer that the liquor in this case, as in the case of Bartemeyer v. Iowa, 18 Wall. 129, was not in existence when the liquor law of Massachusetts was passed. Had the plaintiff in error relied on the existence of the property prior to the law, it behooves it to show that fact. But no such fact is shown, and no such point is taken. The plaintiff in error boldly takes the ground that, being a corporation, it has a right, by contract, to manufacture and sell beer forever, notwithstanding and in spite of any exigencies which may occur in the morals or the health of the community requiring such manufacture to cease. We do not so understand the rights of the plaintiff. The legislature had no power to confer any such rights.

Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the extent and boundaries of the police power, and however difficult it may be to render a satisfactory definition of it, there seems to be no doubt that it does extend to the protection of the lives, health and property of the citizens, and to the preservation of good order and the public morals. The legislature cannot, by any contract, divest itself of the power to provide for these objects. They belong emphatically to that class of objects which demand the application of the maxim, salus populi suprema lex; and they are to be attained and provided for by such appropriate means as the legislative discretion may devise. That discretion can no more be bargained away than the power itself. Boyd v. Alabama, 94 U. S. 645.

Since we have already held, in the case of Bartemeyer v. Iowa, that as a measure of police regulation, looking to the preservation of public morals, a State law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors is not repugnant to any clause of the Constitution of the United States, we see nothing in the present case that can afford any sufficient ground for disturbing the decision of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts.

Section 4


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides "Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


113 U. S., 27. 1885.

An ordinance of the city of San Francisco relating to the regulation and inspection of public laundries and wash-houses, among other things, provided that no person owning or employed in a public laundry or public wash-house within certain prescribed city limits should wash or iron clothes between the hours of ten in the evening and six in the morning or on Sunday. Barbier was convicted under the ordinance of washing and ironing clothes in a public laundry within the prescribed limits, between the hours of ten o'clock in the evening of May 1, 1884, and six o'clock the following day,


and was sentenced to the county jail for five days in accordance with the terms of the ordinance. Barbier petitioned for his discharge on the ground that the city ordinance violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in that the ordinance discriminated between laborers engaged in the laundry business and those engaged in other kinds of business; that it discriminated between laborers beyond the prescribed city limits and those within them, etc. The case was brought to the United States Supreme Court on a writ of error. MR. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.

That fourth section, so far as it is involved in the case before the police judge, was simply a prohibition to carry on the washing and ironing of clothes in public laundries and wash-houses, within certain prescribed limits of the city and county, from ten o'clock at night until six o'clock on the morning of the following day. The prohibition against labor on Sunday is not involved. The provision is purely a police regulation within the competency of any municipality possessed of the ordinary powers belonging to such bodies. And it would be an extraordinary usurpation of the authority of a municipality, if a Federal tribunal should undertake to supervise such regulations. It may be a necessary measure of precaution in a city composed largely of wooden buildings like San Francisco, that occupations in which fires are constantly required should cease after certain hours at night until the following morning; and of the necessity of such regulations the municipal bodies are the exclusive judges; at least any corrections of their action in such matters can come only from State legislation or State tribunals. The same municipal authority which directs the cessation of labor must necessarily prescribe the limits within which it shall be enforced, as it does the limits in a city within which wooden buildings cannot be constructed. There is no invidious discrimination against any one within the prescribed limits by such regulations. There is none in the regulation under consideration. The specification of the limits within which the business cannot be carried on without the certificates of the health officer and board of fire wardens is merely a designation of the portion of the city in which the precautionary measures against fire and to secure proper drainage must be taken for the public health and safety. It is not legislation discriminating against any one. All persons engaged in the same business within it are treated alike; are subject to the same restrictions and are entitled to the same privileges under similar conditions.

The Fourteenth Amendment, in declaring that no State "shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” undoubtedly intended not only that there should be no arbitrary deprivation of life or liberty, or arbitrary spoliation of property, but that equal protection and security should be given to all under like circumstances in the enjoyment of their personal and civil rights; that all persons should be equally entitled to pursue their happiness and acquire and enjoy property; that they should have like access to the courts of the country for the protection of their persons and property, the prevention and redress of wrongs, and the enforcement of contracts; that no impediment should be interposed to the pursuits of any one except as applied to the same pursuits by others under like circumstances; that no greater burdens should be laid upon one than are laid upon others in the same calling and condition, and that in the administration of criminal justice no different or higher punishment should be imposed upon one than such as is prescribed to all for like offences. But neither the amendment-broad and comprehensive as it is-nor any other amendment was designed to interfere with the power of the State, sometimes termed its police power, to prescribe regulations to promote the health, peace, morals, education, and good order of the people, and to legislate so as to increase the industries of the State, develop its resources, and add to its wealth and prosperity. From the very necessities of society, legislation of a special character, having these objects in view, must often be had in certain districts, such as for, draining marshes and irrigating arid plains. Special burdens are often necessary for general benefits,—for supplying water, preventing fires, lighting districts, cleaning streets, opening parks, and many other objects. Regulations for these purposes may press with more or less weight upon one than upon another, but they are designed, not to impose unequal or unnecessary restrictions upon any one, but to promote, with as little individual inconvenience as possible, the general good. Though, in many respects, necessarily special in their character, they do not furnish just ground of complaint if they operate alike upon all persons and property under the same circumstances and conditions. Class legislation, discriminating against some and favoring others, is prohibited; but legislation which, in carrying out a public purpose, is limited in its application, if within the sphere of its operation it affects alike all persons similarly situated, is not within the amendment.

Judgment affirmed.

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118 U. S. 356. 1885.

The plaintiff in error was a native of China named Yick Wo, who was found guilty by a Police Judge's Court of violating an ordinance of the city of San Francisco, providing that it should be unlawful for any person to engage in the laundry business within the city limits "without having first obtained the consent of the Board of Supervisors, except same be located in a building constructed either of brick or stone." Yick Wo was fined $10, and in default of payment was sentenced to the county jail for ten days. He petitioned to the Supreme Court of California for the writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was illegally deprived of his personal liberty by the defendant, Hopkins, who was Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco. The State court discharged the writ and remanded Yick Wo to prison. The case was then brought into the Supreme Court of the United States on a writ of error.

A similar case regarding a Chinese subject named Wo Lee was brought into the Supreme Court from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California and was argued and decided at the same time with the Yick Wo case.

The evidence introduced in the lower court showed that the city authorities in enforcing the ordinance discriminated against the Chinese.




MR. JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. , It says: “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws. It is accordingly enacted by section 1977 of the Revised Statutes that "all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other." The questions we have to consider and decide in these cases, therefore, are to be treated as involving the rights of every citizen of the United States equally with those of the strangers and aliens who now invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

It is contended on the part of the petitioners that the ordinances for violations of which they are severally sentenced to imprisonment are void on their face, as being within the prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment; and, in the alternative, if not so, that they are void by reason of their administration, operating unequally, so as to punish in the present petitioners what is permitted to others as lawful, without any distinction of circumstances—an unjust and illegal discrimination, it is claimed, which, though not made expressly by the ordinances, is made possible by them.

When we consider the nature and the theory of our institutions of government, the principles upon which they are supposed to rest, and review the history of their development, we are constrained to conclude that they do not mean to leave room for the play and

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