Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell - 222 U.S. 225 (1911)
U.S. Supreme Court
Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell, 222 U.S. 225 (1911)
Mutual Loan Company v. Martell
Submitted October 27, 1911
Decided December 11, 1911
222 U.S. 225
The validity of police regulations depends upon the circumstances of each case, whether arbitrary or reasonable and whether really designed to accomplish a legitimate public purpose. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Ry. Co. v. Drainage Commissioners, 200 U. S. 591.
The power of the state extends to so dealing with conditions existing in the state as to bring out of them the greatest welfare of its people. Bacon v. Walker, 204 U. S. 311.
Police power is but another name for the power of government; it is subject only to constitutional limitations which allow a comprehensive range of judgment, and it is the province of the state to adopt by its legislature such policy as it deems best.
Legislation cannot be judged by theoretical standards, but must be tested by the concrete conditions inducing it.
A state may, as a police regulation, make assignments of future wages invalid except under conditions that will properly restrict extravagance and improvidence of wage-earners.
A state may, under conditions justifying it, prescribe that an assignment by a married man of wages to be earned by him in future shall be invalid unless consented to by his wife.
This Court recognizes the propriety of deferring to tribunals on the spot, and will not oppose its notions of necessity to legislation adopted to accomplish a legitimate public purpose. Laurel Hill Cemetery v. San Francisco, 216 U. S. 358.
A state has power to prescribe the form and manner of execution and
authentication of legal instruments in regard to property, its devolution and transfer. Arnett v. Reade, 220 U. S. 311.
There are many legal restrictions that may be placed by a state on the liberty of contract, and this Court will not interfere except in a clear case of abuse of power. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. Co. v. McGuire, 219 U. S. 549.
The legislature of a state has a wide range of discretion in classifying objects of legislation, and even if the classification be not scientifically nor logically appropriate, if it is not palpably arbitrary and is uniform within the class, it does not deny equal protection.
Legislation may recognize degrees of evil without denying equal protection of the laws.
The statute of Massachusetts making invalid assignments for security for debts of less than $200 of wages to be earned unless accepted in writing by the employer, consented to by the wife of the assignor, and filed in a public office, is not unconstitutional as depriving the borrower or the lender of his property without due process of law, nor is it unconstitutional as denying equal protection of the law because certain classes of financial institutions are exempted from its provisions. It is a legitimate exercise of the police power, and there is a basis for the classification.
200 Mass. 482 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the validity under the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of Massachusetts in regard to assignments of wages as security for loans, are stated in the opinion.