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L'HOTE v. NEW ORLEANS.

decided: May 14, 1900.

L'HOTE
v.
NEW ORLEANS.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.

Author: Brewer

[ 177 U.S. Page 595]

 MR. JUSTICE BREWER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The question presented in this case is whether an ordinance of the city of New Orleans prescribing limits in that city, outside side of which no woman of lewd character shall dwell, operates to deprive these plaintiffs in error of any right secured by the Constitution of the United States. It is well, in the first place, to look at the negative side and see what is not involved.No woman of that character is challenging its validity; there is no complaint by her that she is deprived of any personal rights, either as to the control of her life or the selection of an abiding place. She is not saying that she is denied the right to select a home where she may desire, or that her personal conduct is in any way interfered with. In brief, the persons named in the ordinance, and against whom its provisions are directed, do not question its validity.

In the second place, no person owning buildings outside of the prescribed limits is complaining that he is deprived of a possible tenant by virtue of the ordinance, or saying that the abridgment of her freedom of domicile operates to cut down the amount of his rents.

In the third place, it will be perceived that the ordinance does not attempt to give to persons of such character license to carry on their business in any way they see fit, or, indeed, to carry it on at all, or to conduct themselves in such a manner as to disturb the public peace within the prescribed limits. Clauses 3

[ 177 U.S. Page 596]

     and 4 of the first section of the ordinance are clearly designed to restrain any public manifestation of the vocation which these persons pursue and to keep so far as possible unseen from public gaze the character of their lives, while clauses 6, 7, 8 and 9 provide means for enforcing order and preventing disturbances of the peace.

The question, therefore, is simply whether one who may own or occupy property in or adjacent to the prescribed limits, whether occupied as a residence or for other purposes, can prevent the enforcement of such an ordinance on the ground that by it his rights under the Federal Constitution are invaded.

In this respect we premise by saying that one of the difficult social problems of the day is what shall be done in respect to those vocations which minister to and feed upon human weaknesses, appetites and passions. The management of these vocations comes directly within the scope of what is known as the police power. They affect directly the public health and morals. Their management becomes a matter of growing importance, especially in our larger cities, where from the very density of population the things which minister to vice tend to increase and multiply. It has been often said that the police power was not by the Federal Constitution transferred to the nation, but was reserved to the States, and that upon them rests the duty of so exercising it as to protect the public health and morals. While, of course, that power cannot be exercised by the States in any way to infringe upon the powers expressly granted to Congress, yet until there is some invasion of Congressional power or of private rights secured by the Constitution of the United States, the action of the States in this respect is beyond question in the courts of the nation. In Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U.S. 27, 31, it was said:

"But neither the amendment -- broad and comprehensive as it is -- nor any other amendment, was designed to interfere with the power of the State, sometimes termed its police power, to prescribe regulations to promote the health, peace, morals, education and good order of the people."

See also Railroad Company v. Husen, 95 U.S. 465; Beer Company v. Massachusetts, 97 U.S. 25; Patterson v. Kentucky,

[ 177 U.S. Page 59797]

     U.S. 501; Fertilizing Company v. Hyde Park, 97 U.S. 659; Plumley v. Massachusetts, 155 U.S. ...


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