Fischer v. St. Louis
194 U.S. 361 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fischer v. St. Louis, 194 U.S. 361 (1904)

Fischer v. St. Louis

No. 204

Argued April 12, 1901

Decided May 16, 1904

194 U.S. 361


It is within the power of a municipality when authorized by the law of the state, to make a general police regulation subject to exceptions, and to delegate the discretion of granting the exceptions to a municipal board or officer and the fact that some may be favored and some not, does not, if the ordinance is otherwise constitutional, deny those who are not favored the equal protection of the law.

The ordinance of the City of St. Louis prohibiting the erection of any dairy or cow stable within the city limits without permission from the municipal assembly and providing for permission to be given by such assembly, is

Page 194 U. S. 362

a police regulation, and is not unconstitutional as depriving one violating the ordinance of his property without due process of law or denying him the equal protection of the laws.

Whether such an ordinance is violated is not a federal question, and this Court is bound by the decision of the state court in that respect.

This proceeding was originally instituted by a criminal complaint filed by the City of St. Louis against Fischer in the police court for a violation of an ordinance of the city in erecting, building, and establishing on certain premises occupied by Fischer at Nos. 7208 and 7210 North Broadway, a dairy and cow stable, without first having obtained permission so to do from the municipal assembly by proper ordinance, and for maintaining such dairy and cow stable without permission of such assembly.

Motion was made to quash the complaint upon the ground, amongst others, that section 5 of the ordinance under which the conviction was held was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

The case was submitted to the court upon the following agreed statement of the facts:

"The plaintiff, the City of St. Louis, is a municipal corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the State of Missouri, and defendant is and was on the sixteenth day of November, 1898, the occupant of certain premises known as 7208 and 7210 North Broadway, in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, upon which premises at said time, stood a dwelling house and frame stable, which had been erected and built prior to the occupancy of said premises by defendant."

"At the time of the approval of ordinance No. 18,407 of said city and state, said premises, buildings, and stable were occupied and in use by a certain party other than this defendant for the purpose of operating a dairy and maintaining a cow stable, and this defendant was at the same time operating a dairy and maintaining a cow stable on premises known as No. 6305 Bulwer Avenue, in said city and state. Sometime in the month of March, 1898, the said premises at Nos. 7208 and

Page 194 U. S. 363

7210 North Broadway were abandoned as a dairy and cow stable, and the dwelling house thereon was occupied by a private family for residence purposes only, and no dairy or cow stable was maintained on said premises from March, 1898, until sometime in September, 1898. In September, 1898, defendant moved his cows, about thirty in number, from premises No. 6305 Bulwer Avenue onto premises Nos. 7208 and 7210 North Broadway, placed them in the old stable, and did proceed to conduct upon said premises a dairy establishment, and produce from said cows milk, and sell the same to his customers for profit, and was so doing on the said sixteenth day of November, 1898, without having first obtained permission so to do from the municipal assembly by proper ordinance, as provided by section 5 of ordinance No. 18,407 of the City of St. Louis, approved April 6, 1896,"

a copy of which section is given in the margin. *

Upon this state of facts, defendant was convicted and fined. An appeal was granted to the St. Louis Court of Criminal Correction, which affirmed the judgment. An appeal was then taken to the supreme court of the state, where the judgment was again affirmed. 167 Mo. 654.

Page 194 U. S. 369

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