Engel v. O'Malley
Annotate this Case
219 U.S. 128 (1911)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Engel v. O'Malley, 219 U.S. 128 (1911)
Engel v. O'Malley
Argued December 15, 16, 1910
Decided January 3, 1911
219 U.S. 128
The rule that one not within the class cannot raise objections to the constitutionality of a statute on the ground of discrimination against that class, applied to effect that one who for more than five years has resided in the United States cannot object that a state statute denies equal protection of the law because it excludes those who have not so resided for that period.
Protection of banking business, especially that transacted in small amounts (Noble State Bank v. Haskell, ante, p. 219 U. S. 104), and with poor and ignorant immigrants on first arrival in this country is within the police power of the state, and a state statute imposing special and proper restrictions on those engaging in that class of banking is not unconstitutional under the due process or equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it excepts from its provision other banks and bankers engaged in other classes of banking business or conducting them under other conditions.
The receipt of money by a bank where the depositor can withdraw it when and in such sums as he pleases, although creating a debt, is, in a popular sense, the receipt of money for safekeeping.
Where the subject is within the police protection of the state, it is not for the court to determine whether the enactment is wise or not; that is within legislative discretion.
Courts will presume from general knowledge of business affairs that transmission of money through bankers is made by drafts, and not by sending the identical currency.
Legislation which regulates business may well make distinctions depend upon the degree of evil, Heath Milligan Co. v. Worst, 207 U. S. 338, and, although where size is not an index, a law may not discriminate between the great and the small, proper regulations based thereon where size is an index of the evil to be prevented do not offend the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
There are always difficulties in drawing the dividing line between that which is within and that which is without the constitutional power of the states, and the question in each specific case must be answered by the pertinent facts therein.
A state statute regulating the receipt of deposit of money is not a burden on, or regulation of, interstate or foreign commerce simply because such deposits are likely to be transmitted to other state or foreign countries; the deposit is an independent transaction preceding the transmission.
The provisions of the Private Banking Act of New York of 1910, considered in this case, are not unconstitutional as depriving persons engaged in the receiving and transmitting of small sums of money of their property without due process of law or denying them the equal protection of the law either on account of the regulations to which such persons are subjected or by reason of the exception of other classes of banks and bankers therefrom.
The facts are stated in the opinion.