MUGLER v. KANSAS, 123 U.S. 623 (1887)

123 U.S. 623

STATE OF KANSAS,1 (two cases.)

STATE OF KANSAS ex rel. TUFTS, Asst. Atty. Gen., Gen.,
ZIEBOLD et al.

December 5, 1887

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

These cases involve an inquiry into the validity of certain statutes of Kansas relating to the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors.

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By a statute of Kansas, approved March 3, 1868, it was made a misdemeanor, punishable by fine and imprisonment, for any one, directly or indirectly, to sell spirituous, vinous, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors, without having a dram-shop, tavern, or grocery license. It was also enacted, among other things, that every place where intoxicating liquors were sold in violation of the statute should be taken, held, and deemed to be a common nuisance; and it was required that all rooms, taverns, eating- houses, bazaars, restaurants, groceries, coffee-houses, cellars, or other places of public resort where intoxicating liquors were sold, in violation of law, should be abated as public nuisances. Gen. Stat. Kansas, 1868, c. 35, 6.

But, in 1880, the people of Kansas adopted a more stringent policy. On the 2d of November of that year, they ratified an amendment to the state constitution, which declared that the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors should be forever prohibited in that State, except for medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes.

In order to give effect to that amendment, the legislature repealed the act of 1868, and passed an act, approved February 19, 1881, to take effect May 1, 1881, entitled "An act to prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, except for medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes, and to regulate the manufacture and sale thereof for such excepted purposes."

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Under that statute, the prosecutions against Mugler were instituted. It contains other sections in addition to those above referred to; but as they embody merely the details of the general scheme adopted by the State for the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors, except for the purposes specified, it is unnecessary to set them out.

On the 7th of March, 1885, the legislature passed an act amendatory and supplementary to that of 1881. The thirteenth section of the former act, being the one upon which the suit against Ziebold & Hagelin is founded, will be given in full in a subsequent part of this opinion.

The facts necessary to a clear understanding of the questions, common to these cases, are the following: Mugler and Ziebold & Hagelin were engaged in manufacturing beer at their respective establishments, (constructed specially for that purpose,) for several years prior to the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1880. They continued in such business in defiance of the statute of 1881, and without having the required permit. Nor did Mugler have a license or permit to sell beer. The single sale of which he was found guilty occurred in the State, and after May 1, 1881, that is, after the act of February 19, 1881, took effect, and was of beer manufactured before its passage.

The buildings and machinery constituting these breweries are of little value if not used for the purpose of manufacturing beer; that is to say, if the statutes are enforced against the defendants the value of their property will be very materially diminished.

The general question in each case is whether the foregoing statutes of Kansas are in conflict with that clause of the fourteenth amendment, which provides that 'no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.'

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it is difficult to perceive any ground for the judiciary to declare that the prohibition by Kansas of the manufacture or sale, within her limits, of intoxicating liquors for general use there as a beverage, is not fairly adapted to the end of protecting the community against the evils which confessedly result from the excessive use of ardent spirits. There is no justification for holding that the state, under the guise merely of police regulations, is here aiming to deprive the citizen of his constitutional rights; for we cannot shut out of view the fact, within the knowledge of all, that the public health, the public morals, and the public safety, may be endangered by the general use of intoxicating drinks; nor the fact established by statistics accessible to every one, that the idleness, disorder, pauperism, and crime existing in the country, are, in some degree at least, traceable to this evil. If, therefore, a state deems the absolute prohibition of the manufacture and sale within her limits, of intoxicating liquors, for other than medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes, to be necessary to the peace and security of society, the courts cannot, without usurping legislative functions, override the will of the people as thus expressed by their chosen representatives.

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This conclusion is unavoidable, unless the fourteenth amendment of the constitution takes from the states of the Union those powers of police that were reserved at the time the original constitution was adopted.

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Undoubtedly the state, when providing, by legislation, for the protection of the public health, the public morals, or the public safety, is subject to the paramount authority of the constitution of the United States, and may not violate rights secured or guarantied by that instrument, or interfere with the execution of the powers confided to the general government.

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Upon this ground, if we do not misapprehend the position of defendants, it is contended that, as the primary and principal use of beer is as a beverage; as their respective breweries were erected when it was lawful to engage in the manufacture of beer for every purpose; as such establishments will become of no value as property, or, at least, will be materially diminished in value, if not employed in the manufacture of beer for every purpose,-the prohibition upon their being so employed is, in effect, a taking of property for public use without compensation, and depriving the citizen of his property without due process of law. In other words, although the state, in the exercise of her police powers, may lawfully prohibit the manufacture and sale, within her limits, of intoxicating liquors to be used as a beverage, legislation having that object in view cannot be enforced against those who, at the time, happen to own property, the chief value of which consists in its fitness for such manufacturing purposes, unless compensation is first made for the diminution in the value of their property, resulting from such prohibitory enactments.

This interpretation of the fourteenth amendment is inadmissible. It cannot be supposed that the states intended, by adopting that amendment, to impose restraints upon the exercise of their powers for the protection of the safety, health, or morals of the community.

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The principal that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, was embodied, in substance, in the constitutions of nearly all, if not all, of the states at the time of the adoption of the fourteenth amendment; and it has never been regarded as incompatible with the principle, equally vital, because essential to the peace and safety of society, that all property in this country is held under the implied obligation that the owner's use of it shall not be injurious to the community. Beer Co. v. Massachusetts, 97 U.S. 32 ; Com. v. Alger, 7 Cush. 53.

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As already stated, the present case must be governed by principles that do not involve the power of eminent domain, in the exercise of which property may not be taken for public use without compensation. A prohibition simply upon the use of property for purposes that are declared, by valid legislation, to be injurious to the health, morals, or safety of the community, cannot, in any just sense, be deemed a taking or an appropriation of property for the public benefit. Such legislation does not disturb the owner in the control or use of his property for lawful purposes, nor restrict his right to dispose of it, but is only a declaration by the state that its use by any one, for certain forbidden purposes, is prejudicial to the public interests. Nor can legislation of that character come within the fourteenth amendment, in any case, unless it is apparent that its real object is not to protect the community, or to promote the general well-being, but, under the guise of police regulation, to deprive the owner of his liberty and property, without due process of law. The power which the states have of prohibiting such use by individuals of their property, as will be prejudicial to the health, the morals, or the safety of the public, is not, and, consistently with the existence and safety of organized society, cannot be, burdened with the condition that the state must compensate such individual owners for pecuniary losses they may sustain, by reason of their not being permitted, by a noxious use of their property, to inflict injury upon the community. The exercise of the police power by the destruction of property which is itself a public nuisance, or the prohibition of its use in a particular way, whereby its value becomes depreciated, is very different from taking property for public use, or from depriving a person of his property without due process of law. In the one case, a nuisance only is abated; in the other, unoffending property is taken away from an innocent owner.

            It is true, when the defendants in these cases purchased or erected their breweries, the laws of the state did not forbid the manufacture of intoxicating liquors. But the state did not thereby give any assurance, or come under an obligation, that its legislation upon that subject would remain unchanged. Indeed, as was said in Stone v. Mississippi, 101 U.S. 814 , the supervision of the public health and the public morals is a governmental power, 'continuing in its nature,' and 'to be dealt with as the special exigencies of the moment may require;' and that, 'for this purpose, the largest legislative discretion is allowed, and the discretion cannot be parted with any more than the power itself.' So in Beer Co. v. Massachusetts, 97 U.S. 32 : 'If the public safety or the public morals require the discontinuance of any manufacture or traffic, the hand of the legislature cannot be stayed from providing for its discontinuance by any incidental inconvenience which individuals or corporations may suffer.'

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For the reasons stated, we are of opinion that the judgments of the supreme court of Kansas have not denied to Mugler, the plaintiff in error, any right, privilege, or immunity secured to him by the constitution of the United States, and its judgment, in each case, is accordingly affirmed.