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action of purely personal and arbitrary power. Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts. And the law is the definition and limitation of power. It is, indeed, quite true, that there must always be lodged somewhere, and in some person or body, the authority of final decision; and in many cases of mere administration the responsibility is purely political, no appeal lying except to the ultimate tribunal of the public judgment, exercised either in the pressure of opinion or by means of the suffrage. But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the government of the Commonwealth "may be a government of laws and not of men.' For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.

In the present cases we are not obliged to reason from the probable to the actual, and pass upon the validity of the ordinances complained of, as tried merely by the opportunities which their terms afford, of unequal and unjust discrimination in their administration. For the cases present the ordinances in actual operation, and the facts shown establish an administration directed so exclusively against a particular class of persons as to warrant and require the conclusion, that, whatever may have been the intent of the ordinances as adopted, they are applied by the public authorities charged with their administration, and thus representing the State itself, with a mind so unequal and oppressive as to amount to a practical denial by the State of that equal protection of the laws which is secured to the petitioners, as to all other persons, by the broad and benign provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if it is applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the Constitution. This principle of interpretation has been sanctioned by this court in Henderson v. Mayor of New York, 92 U. S. 259; Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U. S. 275 ; Ex parte Virginia, 100 U. S. 339; Neal v. Delaware, 103 U. S. 370; and Soon Hing v. Crowley, 113 U. S. 703.

The present cases, as shown by the facts disclosed in the record, are within this class. It appears that both petitioners have complied with every requisite, deemed by the law or by the public

officers charged with its administration, necessary for the protection of neighboring property from fire, or as a precaution against injury to the public health. No reason whatever, except the will of the supervisors, is assigned why they should not be permitted to carry on, in the accustomed manner, their harmless and useful occupation, on which they depend for a livelihood. And while this consent of the supervisors is withheld from them and from two hundred others who have also petitioned, all of whom happen to be Chinese subjects, eighty others, not Chinese subjects, are permitted to carry on the same business under similar conditions. The fact of this discrimination is admitted. No reason for it is shown, and the conclusion cannot be resisted, that no reason for it exists except hostility to the race and nationality to which the petitioners belong, and which in the eye of the law is not justified. The discrimination is, therefore, illegal, and the public administration which enforces it is a denial of the equal protection of the laws and a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The imprisonment of the petitioners is, therefore, illegal, and they must be discharged. To this end,

The judgment of the Supreme Court of California in the case

of Yick Wo, and that of the Circuit of the United States for the District of California in the case of Wo Lee, are severally reversed, and the cases remanded, each to the proper court, with directions to discharge the petitioners from custody and imprisonment.

Section 5.



The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides: “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

123 U. S., 623. 1887.

The State of Kansas in 1880 adopted a constitution which prohibited in one of its sections the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors except for medicinal, scientific and mechanical purposes. In 1881 by statute the manufacture or sale, except for the specified purposes was made a misdemeanor, and it was further provided that no one should sell for either of the excepted purposes without having secured a druggist's permit therefor. Mugler was convicted of manufacturing and also selling without a permit. His conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Kansas and the case was brought into the United States Supreme Court on a writ of


MR. Justice Harlan delivered the opinion of the court.

The facts necessary to a clear understanding of the questions, common to these cases, are the following: Mugler and Ziebold & Hagelin were engaged in manufacturing beer at their respective establishments (constructed specially for that purpose) for several years prior to the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1880. They continued in such business in defiance of the statute of 1881, and without having the required permit. Nor did Mugler have a license or permit to sell beer. The single sale of which he was found guilty occurred in the State, and after May 1, 1881, that is, after the Act of February 19, 1881, took effect, and was of beer manufactured before its passage.

The buildings and machinery constituting these breweries are of little value if not used for the purpose of manufacturing beer; that is to say, if the statutes are enforced against the defendants the value of their property will be very materially diminished.

The general question in each case is, whether the foregoing statutes of Kansas are in conflict with that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which provides that "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law."

That legislation by a State prohibiting the manufacture within her limits of intoxicating liquors, to be there sold or bartered for general use as a beverage, does not necessarily infringe any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States, is made clear by the decisions of this court, rendered before and since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment; to some of which, in view of questions to be presently considered, it will be well to refer.

Keeping in view these principles, as governing the relations of the judicial and legislative departments of government with each other, it is difficult to perceive any ground for the judiciary to declare that the prohibition by Kansas of the manufacture or sale, within her limits, of intoxicating liquors for general use there as a beverage, is not fairly adapted to the end of protecting the community against the evils which confessedly result from the excessive use of ardent spirits. There is no justification for holding that the State, under the guise merely of police regulations, is here aiming to deprive the citizen of his constitutional rights; for we cannot shut out of view the fact, within the knowledge of all, that the public health, the public morals, and the public safety may be endangered by the general use of intoxicating drinks; nor the fact, established by statistics accessible to every one, that the idleness, disorder, pauperism, and crime existing in the country are, in some degree at least, traceable to this evil. If, therefore, a State deems the abso




lute prohibition of the manufacture and sale, within her limits, of intoxicating liquors for other than medical, scientific and manufacturing purposes, to be necessary to the peace and security of society, the courts cannot, without usurping legislative functions, override the wills of the people as thus expressed by their chosen representatives. They have nothing to do with the mere policy of legislation. Indeed, it is a fundamental principle in our institutions, indispensable to the preservation of public liberty, that one of the separate departments of government shall not usurp powers committed by the Constitution to another department. And so, if, in the judgment of the legislature, the manufacture of intoxicating liquors for the maker's own use, as a beverage, would tend to cripple, if it did not defeat, the efforts to guard the community against the evils attending the excessive use of such liquors, it is not for the courts, upon their views as to what is best and safest for the community, to disregard the legislative determination of that question. So far from such a regulation having no relation to the general end sought to be accomplished, the entire scheme of prohibition, as embodied in the constitution and laws of Kansas, might fail, if the right of each citizen to manufacture intoxicating liquors for his own use as a beverage were recognized. Such a right does not inhere in citizenship. Nor can it be said that government interferes with or impairs any one's constitutional rights of liberty or of property, when it determines that the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drinks, for general or individual use, as a beverage, are, or may become, hurtful to society, and constitute, therefore, a business in which no one may lawfully engage. Those rights are best secured, in our government, by the observance, upon the part of all, of such regulations as are established by competent authority to promote the common good. No one may rightfully do that which the law-making power, upon reasonable grounds, declares to be prejudicial to the general welfare.

This conclusion is unavoidable, unless the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution takes from the States of the Union those powers of police that were reserved at the time the original Constitution was adopted. But this court has declared, upon full consideration, in Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U. S. 27, 31, that the Fourteenth Amendment had no such effect. After observing, among other things, that that amendement forbade the arbitrary deprivation of life or liberty, and the arbitrary spoliation of property, and secured equal protection to all under like circumstances, in respect as well to their personal and civil rights as to their acquisition and enjoyment of property, the court said: "But neither the amendement, — 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."

Upon this ground—if we do not misapprehend the position of defendants—it is contended that, as the primary and principal use of beer is as a beverage; as their respective breweries were erected when it was lawful to engage in the manufacture of beer for every purpose; as such establishments will become of no value as property, or, at least, will be materially diminished in value, if not employed in the manufacture of beer for every purpose; the prohibition upon their being so employed is, in effect, a taking of property for public use without compensation, and depriving the citizen of his property without due process of law. In other words, although the State, in the exercise of her police powers, may lawfully prohibit the manufacture and sale, within her limits, of intoxicating liquors to be used as a beverage, legislation having that object in view cannot be enforced against those who, at the time, happen to own property, the chief value of which consists in its fitness for such manufacturing purposes, unless compensation is first made for the diminution in the value of their property, resulting from such prohibitory enactments.

This interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment is inadmissible. It cannot be supposed that the States intended, by adopting that amendment, to impose restraints upon the exercise of their powers for the protection of the safety, health, or morals of the community. In respect to contracts, the obligations of which are protected against hostile State legislation, this court in Butchers' Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U. S. 746, 751, said that the State could not, by any contract, limit the exercise of her power to the prejudice of the public health and the public morals. So, in Stone v. Mississippi, 101 U. S. 814, 816, where the Constitution was invoked against the repeal by the State of a charter, granted to a private corporation, to conduct a lottery, and for which that corporation paid to the State a valuable consideration in money, the court said: “No legislature can bargain away the public health or the public morals. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. . . Government is organized with a view to their preservation, and cannot divest itself of the power to provide for them.”

As already stated, the present case must be governed by principles that do not involve the power of eminent domain, in the exercise of which property may not be taken for public use without compensation. A prohibition simply upon the use of property for purposes that are declared, by valid legislation, to be injurious to the health, morals, or safety of the community, cannot, in any just sense, be deemed a taking or an appropriation of property for the public benefit. Such legislation does not disturb the owner in the control or use of his property for lawful purposes, nor restrict his right to dispose of it, but is only a declaration by the State that its use by any one, for certain forbidden purposes, is prejudicial to the public interests. Nor can legislation of that character come within the Fourteenth Amendment, in any case, unless it is apparent that its real object is not to protect the community, or to promote the general well-being, but, under the guise of police regulation, to





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