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HADACHECK V. SEBASTIAN, 239 U. S. 394 (1915)

U.S. Supreme Court

Hadacheck v. Sebastian, 239 U.S. 394 (1915)

Hadacheck v. Sebastian

No. 32

Submitted October 22, 1915

Decided December 20, 1915

239 U.S. 394


While the police power of the state cannot be so arbitrarily exercised as to deprive persons of their property without due process of law or deny them equal protection of the law, it is one of the most essential powers of government and one of the least limitable -- in fact, the imperative necessity for its existence precludes any limitation upon it when not arbitrarily exercised.

A vested interest cannot, because of conditions once obtaining, be asserted against the proper exercise of the police power -- to so hold would preclude development. Chicago Alton R. Co. v. Tranbarger, 238 U. S. 67.

There must be progress, and in its march, private interests must yield to the good of the community.

The police power may be exerted under some conditions to declare that, under particular circumstances and in particular localities, specified businesses which are not nuisances per se (such as livery stables, as in Reinman v. Little Rock, 237 U. S. 171, and brick yards, as in this case) are to be deemed nuisances in fact and law.

While an ordinance prohibiting the manufacturing of bricks within a specified section of a municipality may be a constitutional exercise of the police power -- quaere whether prohibiting of digging the clay and moving it from that section would not amount to an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.

This Court cannot consider the contention of one attacking a municipal ordinance that it denies him equal protection of the laws when based upon disputable considerations of classification and on a comparison

Page 239 U. S. 395

of conditions of which there is no means of judicial determination.

In this case, the charges of plaintiff in error that the ordinance attacked and alleged to be ruining his business was adopted in order to foster a monopoly and suppress his competition with others in the same business is too illusive for this Court to consider, the state courts having also refuted it.

The fact that a particular business is not prohibited in all sections of a municipality does not, for that reason, make the ordinance unconstitutional as denying equal protection of the law to those carrying on that business in the prohibited section -- conditions may justify the distinction and classification.

In determining whether a municipal ordinance goes further than necessary to remedy the evil to be cured, this Court must, in the absence of clear showing to the contrary, accord good faith to the municipality.

Whether an ordinance is within the charter power of the city or valid under the state constitution are questions of state law.

An ordinance of Los Angeles prohibiting the manufacturing of bricks within specified limits of the city held, in an action brought by the owner of brick clay deposits and a brick factory, not to be unconstitutional as depriving him of his property without due process of law or as denying him equal protection of the laws.

165 Cal. 416 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the due process and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment of an ordinance of Los Angeles prohibiting brick yards within certain limits of the city, are stated in the opinion.

Page 239 U. S. 404

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