Murphy v. California
225 U.S. 623 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Murphy v. California, 225 U.S. 623 (1912)

Murphy v. California

No. 204

Argued March 11, 1912

Decided June 7, 1912

225 U.S. 623

Syllabus

While the Fourteenth Amendment protects the citizen in his right to engage in any lawful business, it does not prevent legislation intended to regulate useful occupations which, because of their nature and location, may prove injurious or offensive to the public.

The Fourteenth Amendment does not prevent a municipality from prohibiting any business which is inherently vicious and harmful.

The Fourteenth Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating or prohibiting a non-useful occupation which may become harmful to the public, and the regulation or prohibition need not be postponed until the evil is flagrant.

An ordinance prohibiting the keeping of billiard halls is not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, either as depriving the owner of the hall of his property without due process of law or as denying him the equal protection of the laws.

Where, in the exercise of the police power, the municipal authorities by ordinance determine that a certain class of resorts should be prohibited as harmful to the public, the courts cannot except from the operation of the statute one of the class affected on the ground that his particular place does not produce the evil aimed at by the ordinance.

One cannot be heard to complain of his money loss by reason of the legislating out of existence of a business in which he had invested and which is not protected by the federal or state constitution and which he knew was subject to police regulation or prohibition.

Page 225 U. S. 624

A classification in a statute regulating billiard halls based on hotels having twenty-five rooms is reasonable, and the owner of a billiard hall, not connected with a hotel, is not denied equal protection of the laws by an ordinance prohibiting keeping billiard halls for hire because hotels having twenty-five rooms can maintain a billiard hall for their regular guests.

One who does not keep a hotel with less than the specified number of rooms cannot be heard to complain that a statute denies the owners of the smaller hotels the equal protection of the laws, it not appearing that the provision was inserted for purposes of evasion or that the ordinance was unequally enforced.

The fact that one of a class excepted from the operation of a police ordinance, on complying with a condition, does not comply therewith does not render the statute unconstitutional as against the classes upon which it operates, but renders the person violating the condition subject to the penalties of the ordinance.

The ordinance of South Pasadena, California, passed in pursuance of police power conferred by the general law of the state, prohibiting the keeping of billiard halls for hire, except in the case of hotels having twenty-five rooms or more for use of regular guests is not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment either as depriving the owners of billiard halls not connected with hotels of their property without due process of law or as denying them equal protection of the law.

155 Cal. 322 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of a police law of California regulating billiard halls, are stated in the opinion.

Page 225 U. S. 627

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