Front Page Titles (by Subject) § 120.: Prohibition of occupations in general. 5 — - A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, vol. 1
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§ 120.: Prohibition of occupations in general. 5 — - Christopher G. Tiedeman, A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, vol. 1 
A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint (St. Louis: The F.H. Thomas Law Book Co., 1900). Vol. 1.
Part of: A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States considered from both a Civil and Criminal Standpoint, 2 vols.
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Prohibition of occupations in general.5 —
If the police regulation of trades and occupations cannot be instituted and enforced, except so far as a trade or occupation is harmful or threatens to be harmful in any way to the public, however slight the restraint may be; so much the more necessary must it be to confine the exercise of the police power to the prevention of the injuries with which the public is threatened by the prosecution of a calling, when the law undertakes to deny altogether the right to pursue the calling or profession. In proportion to the severity or extent of the police control must the strict observance of the constitutional limitations upon police power be required. There is no easier or more tempting opportunity for the practice of tyranny than in the police control of occupations. Good and bad motives often combine to accomplish this kind of tyranny. The zeal of the reformer, as well as cupidity and self-interest, must alike be guarded against. Both are apt to prompt the employment of means, to attain the end desired, which the constitution prohibits.
It has been so often explained and stated, that the police power must, when exerted in any direction, be confined to the imposition of those restrictions and burdens which are necessary to promote the general welfare, in other words to prevent the infliction of a public injury, that it seems to be an unpardonable reiteration to make any further reference to it. But the principle thus enunciated is the key to every problem arising out of the exercise of police power. Applied to the question of prohibition of trades and occupations, it declares unwarranted by the constitution any law which prohibits altogether an occupation, the prosecution of which does not necessarily, and because of its unenviable character, work an injury to the public. It is not sufficient that the public sustains harm from a certain trade or employment, as it is conducted by some who are engaged in it. Nor is it sufficient that all remedies for the prevention of the evil prove defective, which fall short of total prohibition. Because many men engaged in the calling persist in so conducting the business that the public suffer, and their actions cannot otherwise be effectually controlled, is no justification of a law which prohibits an honest man from conducting the business in such a manner as not to inflict injury upon the public. In order to prohibit the prosecution of a trade altogether, the injury to the public, which furnishes the justification for such a law, must proceed from the inherent character of the business. Where it is possible to conduct the business without harm to the public, all sorts of police regulations may be instituted, which may tend to suppress the evil. Licenses may be required, the most rigid system of police inspection may be established, and heavy penalties may be imposed for the infractions of the law; but if the business is not inherently harmful, the prosecution of it cannot rightfully be prohibited to one who will conduct the business in a proper and circumspect manner. Such an one would “be deprived of his liberty” without due process of law.
As it was said by the Supreme Court of the United States in one case,1 by Justice Bradley:—
“The right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an inalienable right. It was formulated as such under the phrase, ‘pursuit of happiness,’ in the Declaration of Independence, which commenced with the fundamental proposition that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ This right is a large ingredient in the civil liberty of the citizen.” * * *
“If it does not abridge the privileges and immunities of a citizen of the United States to prohibit him from pursuing his chosen calling, and giving to others the exclusive right of pursuing it, it certainly does deprive him (to a certain extent) of his liberty; for it takes from him the freedom of adopting and following the pursuit which he prefers; which, as already intimated, is a material part of the liberty of the citizen.”
So, also, in another case, the same court said,1 through Mr. Justice Matthews:—
“But the fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the government of the commonwealth ‘may be a government of laws, and not of men.’ For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to me intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.”
I add two quotations from decisions of the New York Court of Appeals, in the same strain. In the case of In re Jacobs,2 Judge Earle said:—
“So, too, one may be deprived of his liberty, and his constitutional rights thereto violated, without the actual imprisonment or restraint of his person. Liberty, in its broad sense, as understood in this country, means the right, not only of freedom from actual servitude, imprisonment or restraint, but the right of one to use his faculties in all lawful ways, to live and work where he will, to earn his livelihood in any lawful calling, and to pursue any lawful trade or avocation. All laws, therefore, which impair or trammel these rights, which limit one in his choice of a trade or profession, or confine him to work or live in a specified locality, or exclude him from his own house, or restrain his otherwise lawful movements (except as such laws may be passed in the exercise by the legislature of the police power, which will be noticed later), are infringements upon his fundamental rights of liberty, which are under constitutional protection.”
And, again, in the case of the People v. Marx,1 Judge Rapallo, speaking of the inalienable rights of man under American constitutional limitations, said:—
“Among these, no proposition is now more firmly settled than that it is one of the fundamental rights and privileges of every American citizen to adopt and follow such lawful industrial pursuits, not injurious to the community, as he may see fit. The term ‘liberty,’ as protected by the constitution, is not cramped into mere freedom from physical restraint of the person of the citizen as by incarceration, but it is deemed to embrace the right of man to be free in the enjoyment of the faculties with which he has been endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraints as are necessary for the common welfare.”
With this understanding of the constitutional limitations upon the police control of employments, it is not difficult to test the constitutionality of the various laws enacted in different States, which prohibit the prosecution of certain trades and professions.
See post, § 164, for a discussion of the prohibition of the sale of personal property.
Butcher’s Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U. S. 746, 762.
Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 370.
98 N. Y. 98, 106, 107.
99 N. Y. 377.