141 So. 153 (Fla. 1932), Louis K. Liggett Co. v. Amos

Citation:141 So. 153, 104 Fla. 609
Opinion Judge:TERRELL, J. DAVIS, J.
Party Name:LOUIS K. LIGGETT CO. et al. v. AMOS, State Comptroller, et al.
Attorney:Kay, Adams, Ragland & Kurz, of Jacksonville, for appellants. Cary D. Landis, Atty. Gen., and H. E. Carter, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.
Case Date:April 04, 1932
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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Page 153

141 So. 153 (Fla. 1932)

104 Fla. 609

LOUIS K. LIGGETT CO. et al.

v.

AMOS, State Comptroller, et al.

Florida Supreme Court

April 4, 1932

En Banc.

Suit by the Louis K. Liggett Company and others against Ernest Amos, as State Comptroller, and others. From a decree dismissing the bill of complaint, complainants appeal.

Affirmed.

ELLIS and BROWN, JJ., dissenting.

Page 154

[104 Fla. 611]Appeal from Circuit Court, Leon County; E. C. Love, Judge.

COUNSEL

Kay, Adams, Ragland & Kurz, of Jacksonville, for appellants.

Cary D. Landis, Atty. Gen., and H. E. Carter, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.

OPINION

TERRELL, J.

The Legislature of 1931 in extraordinary session enacted chapter 15624, Laws of Florida, imposing licenses and fees for opening, operating, maintaining, or establishing stores in this state and to define the duties of the comptroller and tax collectors of the several counties with reference thereto.

This suit was brought by appellants pursuant to section [104 Fla. 612] Fourteen of the 1931 Chancery Act (chapter 14658 Acts of 1931) to test the validity of chapter 15624 generally referred to as the Chain Store Act. The chancellor below held the act valid as against the attack made on it, and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the bill of complaint at the cost of the complainants. Appeal was taken from that decree.

It is first contended that chapter 15624 was enacted in violation of section 8 of article 4 of the Constitution of Florida, in that certain amendments thereto adopted in the Senate June 24, 1931, and in the House of Representatives June 19, 1931, constituted 'legislative business,' and were not adopted by a two-thirds vote, neither was the subject-matter of said act embraced within the Governor's proclamation of June 6, 1931, calling the Legislature in extraordinary session.

Section 8 of article 4 of the Constitution provides for calling the Legislature in extraordinary session, and limits legislative business transacted at such sessions to that stated in the proclamation of the Governor calling the session or that called to the attention of the Legislature while in session or that initiated while in session by a vote of two-thirds of each house. We think the subject-matter of chapter 15624 was fully comprehended in the proclamation of the Governor calling the Legislature in extraordinary session, but, if it was not so comprehended, the record discloses that both the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed by a two-thirds vote to receive and consider committee substitute for House Bill 8-X which was finally adopted and became chapter 15624. The two-thirds vote required by section 8 of article 4 applies only to the matter of taking up 'legislative business' for consideration not embraced in the Governor's proclamation or called by him to their attention while in session. After agreeing by two-thirds vote to consider any 'legislative business,' it then takes the regular course under the [104 Fla. 613] rules, and may be amended, adopted, or rejected by a majority vote. For all the record shows, chapter 15624 was adopted by a two-thirds vote.

It is next contended that section 5 of chapter 15624 creates arbitrary and unreasonable discriminations between chain or multiple store retail merchants and single store retail merchants engaged in the same class of business contrary to the equal protection and the due process clauses of the Federal Constitution and sections 1, 4, and 12 of the Declaration of Rights, Constitution of Florida. This is the dominant question presented, and the answer to it is decisive of the case.

Section 5, chapter 15624, is as follows:

'Section 5. Every person, firm, corporation, association or co-partnership opening, establishing, operating or maintaining one or more stores or mercantile establishments within this State, under the same general management, supervision or ownership, shall pay the license fee hereinafter prescribed for the privilege of opening, establishing, operating

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or maintaining such stores or mercantile establishments. The license fee herein prescribed shall be paid annually, and shall be in addition to the filing fee prescribed in Sections 2 and 4 of this Act.

'The license fees herein prescribed shall be as follows:

"(1) Upon one store, the annual license fee shall be Five Dollars for each such store.

"(2) Upon two stores or more, but not exceeding fifteen stores, where the same are located in any one county, the annual license fee shall be Ten Dollars for each such additional store.

"(3) Upon two stores or more, but not to exceed fifteen stores, where the same are located in different counties, the annual license fee shall be Fifteen Dollars for each such additional store.

"(4) Upon each store in excess of fifteen, but not to exceed thirty, when all are located in any one county, the annual license fee shall be Fifteen Dollars for each such additional store.

[104 Fla. 614] "(5) Upon each store in excess of fifteen, but not to exceed thirty, where the same are located in different counties, the annual license fee shall be Twenty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(6) Upon each store in excess of thirty, but not to exceed fifty, where all are located in any one county, the annual license fee shall be Twenty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(7) Upon each store in excess of thirty, but not to exceed fifty, where the same are located in different counties, the annual license fee shall be Thirty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(8) Upon each store in excess of fifty, but not to exceed seventy-five stores, where all are located in any one county, the annual license fee shall be Thirty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(9) Upon each store in excess of fifty, but not to exceed seventy-five, where the same are located in different counties, the annual license fee shall be Forty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(10) Upon each store in excess of seventy-five, where all are located in any one county, the annual license fee shall be Forty Dollars for each such additional store.

"(11) Upon each store in excess of seventy-five, where the same are located in different counties, the annual license fee shall be Fifty Dollars for each such additional store.

"In addition to the above amounts, Three Dollars for each and every One Thousand Dollars of value of stock carried in each store or for sale in such store."

As a prelude to the exegesis which follows, we may say that remarkably few cases have made their appearance in this court so thoroughly prepared and presented. Counsel for appellants have supported their cause by many publications from the pens of some of the outstanding specialists in this country. These publications are devoted exclusively to the origin, history, economic, and social development of the chain store business, and, while they do not treat the legal aspect of the case with which we are here confronted, [104 Fla. 615] they throw much light on it. We had conceived the chain store as a product of our industrial era, but by a well-established chronology its roots sink much deeper in our history, so deep in fact that it is coeval with the discovery of America, and it may be entirely possibly that Columbus provisioned the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria from a chain store when he set out on his famous voyage in 1492.

This court has repeatedly held that, to construe or test the validity of a legislative enactment, resort may be made to the history of the legislation, the contemporary conditions, political, industrial, and social of the community at whose suggestion the statute was promulgated, and that it may be compared with cognate laws to determine its meaning and effect. Lee v. Clearwater Growers' Association, 93 Fla. 214, 111 So. 722; Amos v. Mathews, 99 Fla. 1, 65, 115, 126 So. 308; Jerome H. Sheip & Co. v. Amos, 100 Fla. 863, 130 So. 699; Gray v. Central Florida Lumber Co., 140 So. 320, decided by this court March 15, 1932.

The term 'due process of law,' or 'law of the land,' as written in Magna Carta, was engrafted on the Federal and state Constitutions from the petition of right where it appears to have been first used, though, it has the same meaning regardless of the form in which used. As applied to life, liberty, or property, due process of law is a fundamental, personal, constitutional guaranty and as against the United States it is provided by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. As against the states, it is provided by the Fourteenth Amendment, and as against the state of Florida, it is provided by sections 4 and 12 of the Declaration of Rights. The language of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments as to due process is identical, yet they were engrafted on the Constitution under very different circumstances. We do not discuss these circumstances here except to say that, while the Fifth Amendment as a restraint[104 Fla. 616] on the federal government preceded the Fourteenth by most one hundred years, it was rarely invoked, while as soon as the restraint against the states was provided in the Fourteenth Amendment, the dockets of the courts were crowded with cases affecting it. Courts have generally proceeded on the assumption that the legal import of the phrase was the same in both amendments, yet it is admitted that circumstances might arise in which a different

Page 156

construction and application of their provisions would be proper. French v. Barber Asphalt Paving Co., 181 U.S. 324, 328, 21 S.Ct. 625, 45 L.Ed. 879. See, also, Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 21 L.Ed. 394.

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