188 A. 775 (Me. 1936), State v. King

Citation188 A. 775, 135 Me. 5
Opinion JudgeHUDSON, Justice.
Party NameSTATE v. KING.
AttorneyGeorge B. Barnes, Co. Atty., of Houlton, for plaintiff. John O. Rogers, of Houlton, for defendant.
Case DateDecember 07, 1936
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)

Page 775

188 A. 775 (Me. 1936)

135 Me. 5

STATE

v.

KING.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

December 7, 1936

George B. Barnes, Co. Atty., of Houlton, for plaintiff.

John O. Rogers, of Houlton, for defendant.

HUDSON, Justice.

On report. The respondent stands indicted by the grand jury of Aroostook county for violation of section 5, chapter 259, of the Public Laws of 1933, as amended by chapter 146 of the Public Laws of 1935; the chapter entitled, "An Act Relative to Regulation of the Use of the Highways by Motor Vehicles Transporting Property for Hire." By [135 Me. 7] agreement, if this Court declares that "prosecution can be maintained, the case is to be remanded for disposition in accordance with the statute."

This chapter divides such users of the highways into two classes; first, common carriers "over regular routes between points within this state" (see section 2) (in section 6 special provision is made as to interstate carriers); and, second, contract carriers, defining them to be "all persons, firms or corporations operating, or causing the operation of, motor vehicles transporting freight or merchandise for hire upon the public highways, other than common carriers over regular routes; except that the term shall not be construed to include any person, firm or corporation not regularly engaged in the transportation business but who on occasional trips transports the property of others for hire" (see section 5).

In section 5, subd. (A), it is provided:

"No contract carrier shall operate, or cause to be operated, any motor vehicle or vehicles for the transportation of property for hire on any public highway within this state without having obtained a permit from the commission."

The respondent did not have the required permit. It is admitted he is a contract carrier and that in that ca [[135 Me. 23] pacity he operated his leased truck on the public highways leading from Houlton to Patten (conveying cream from his collecting station in Houlton to the creamery in Patten). On these facts, the State contends he is guilty.

Guilt is denied by the respondent on the ground that the statute, so far as it concerns contract carriers, violates both State and Federal Constitutions in depriving him of "due process of law" and "equal protection of the laws."

As it relates to common carriers, this chapter has recently been passed upon by this court. As to them, In re John M. Stanley, Exceptant, 133 Me. 91, 174 A. 93, 95, holds it constitutional. This decision was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, Stanley v. Public Utilities Commission, 295 U.S. 76, 55 S.Ct. 628, 79 L.Ed. 1311. Now we are to pass upon its contract carrier provisions.

As to due process and equal protection, the respondent seeks cover under article 1, § 1, of the Maine Constitution, which provides,

[135 Me. 8] "All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness,"

and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

He challenges this statute as an unconstitutional deprivation of his right to conduct his business as a contract carrier. At the outset, it is to be noted that the respondent's business is not conducted only with his own property. A very big and essential part of it is in the use of the public highways, to which he has no special right, but only that of the public at large.

In holding constitutional an ordinance of the town of Eden, closing certain public streets to the use of automobiles, Justice King in State v. Mayo, 106 Me. 62, 75 A. 295, 297, 26 L.R.A. (N.S.) 502, 20 Ann.Cas. 512, said:

"But the right to so use the public streets, as well as all personal and property rights,

Page 778

is not an absolute and unqualified right. It is subject to be limited and controlled by the sovereign authority--the state--whenever necessary to provide for and promote the safety, peace, health, morals, and general welfare of the people. To secure these and kindred benefits is the purpose of organized government, and to that end may the power of the state, called its police power, be used. By the exercise of that power, through legislative enactments, individuals may be subjected to restraints, and the enjoyment of personal and property rights may be limited, or even prevented, if manifestly necessary to develop the resources of the state, improve its industrial conditions, and secure and advance the safety, comfort, and prosperity of its people. And it is fundamental law that no constitutional guaranty is violated by such an exercise of the police power of the state when manifestly necessary and tending to secure such general and public benefits."

Also see State v. Phillips, 107 Me. 249, 78 A. 283.

In State v. Robb, Appellant, 100 Me. 180, 60 A. 874, 876, 4 Ann.Cas. 275, this court said:

"The constitutional guaranties that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, were not intended to limit the subjects upon which the police power of a state may lawfully be exerted."

Quoted therein with approval is this language from the Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 21 L.Ed. 394, viz:

"The citizen owns his property absolutely, it is true; it cannot be taken from him for any private use whatever without his consent, nor for any public use without compensation; still he owns it subject to this restriction, namely, that it must be so used as not to injure others, and that the sovereign authority may, by police regulations, so direct the use of it that it shall not prove pernicious to his neighbors or the citizens generally."

In State v. Latham, 115 Me. 176, 98 A. 578, L.R.A.1917A, 480, Chief Justice Savage stated:

"That the Fourteenth Amendment was not designed to interfere with the proper exercise of the police power by the state was held in Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U.S. 27, 5 S.Ct. 357, 28 L.Ed. 923. And the doctrine has been reaffirmed since in many cases, both in the federal and in the state courts. It is settled doctrine. State v. Montgomery, 94 Me. 192, 47 A. 165, 80 Am.St.Rep. 386; State v. Mitchell, 97 Me. 66, 53 A. 887, 94 Am.St.Rep. 481; State v. Leavitt, 105 Me. 76, 72 A. 875, 26 L.R.A. (N.S.) 799."

In Maine Motor Coaches, Inc., Petitioner v. Public Utilities Commission, 125 Me. 63, 130 A. 866, 867, Chief Justice Wilson said:

"In view of the well-recognized control over highways by the Legislature and of the public moneys spent in building permanent thoroughfares throughout the state, and the possible menace to public safety, and the rapid destruction of the roadbed by the operation of heavy, high-powered motor busses over them, the authority of the Legislature to prohibit the use of the public ways for such purposes cannot be doubted."

[135 Me. 10] This case is cited with approval in Justice Sutherland's opinion in Stephenson v. Binford, 287 U.S. 251, 264, 53 S.Ct. 181, 184, 77 L.Ed. 288, 87 A.L.R. 721.

In York Harbor Village Corporation v. Libby et al., 126 Me. 537, 140 A. 382, 385 (it was claimed that a village zoning ordinance interfered with the constitutional right to conduct private business), Justice Deasy said:

"It [meaning the police power] is not the offspring of constitutions. It is older than any written constitution. It is the power which the states have not surrendered to the nation, and which by the Tenth Amendment were expressly reserved 'to the states, respectively, or to the people.' Limitations expressed or necessarily implied in the Federal Constitution are the frontiers which the police power cannot pass. Within those frontiers its authority is recognized and respected by the Constitution and given effect by all courts. We have seen that private property is held subject to the implied condition that it shall not be used for any purpose that injures or impairs the public health, morals, safety, order, or welfare. Under the police power, statutes and authorized ordinances give this condition practical effect by restrictions which regulate or prohibit such uses. If the use is actually and substantially an injury or impairment of the public interest in any of its aspects above enumerated, a regulating or restraining statute or ordinance conforming thereto, if itself reasonable and not merely arbitrary, and not violative of any constitutional limitation, is valid."

Page 779

In State of Maine v. Chandler, 131 Me. 262, 161 A. 148, 82 A.L.R. 1389, Justice Sturgis said:

"The right of a state in the exercise of its police power to prescribe uniform regulations necessary for public safety and order in respect to the operation of motor vehicles on its highways has been repeatedly recognized and sustained."

In State of Maine v. Old Tavern Farm, Inc., 133 Me. 468, 180 A. 473, 475, 101 A.L.R. 810, Justice Dunn stated:

"The Fourteenth Amendment was not designed to interfere with due exercise of the police power by the state."

[135 Me. 11] And in the Stanley Case, supra,

"The exceptant [a common carrier] had no vested right to use the highways and other roads to carry freight for hire."

A fortiori is it true of a contract carrier, for his service is private, not public.

This also from the recent Stanley Case, supra:

"The streets belong to the public, and are primarily for use in the ordinary way. No one has any inherent right to use such thoroughfares as a place of business."

The Massachusetts court in an advisory opinion, In re Opinion of the Justices, 251 Mass. 569, on page 595, 147 N.E. 681,...

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23 practice notes
  • 281 A.2d 570 (Me. 1971), State v. Levesque
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • September 29, 1971
    ...The contention that this procedure sets up an arbitrary and capricious classification is without merit. See, State v. King, 1936, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775. 'The fact that a statute (here-a rule) discriminates in favor of a certain class does not make it arbitrary, if the discrimination is foun......
  • 8 A.2d 585 (Me. 1939), Jordan v. Gaines
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 7, 1939
    ...v. Mayo, 106 Me. 62, 75 A. 295, 26 L.R.A., N.S., 502, 20 Ann.Cas. 512; State v. Phillips, 107 Me. 249, 78 A. 283; State of Maine v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775. Speaking of the police power, this Court said in York Harbor Village Corporation v. Libby et al., supra, 126 Me. on page 540, 140 ......
  • 104 A.2d 530 (Me. 1954), Inhabitants of Town of Beals v. Beal
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • March 18, 1954
    ...such as State v. Butler, 105 Me. 91, 73 A. 560, 24 L.R.A.,N.S., 744; State v. Vino Medical Co., 121 Me. 438, 117 A. 588; State v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775; State v. Cohen 133 Me. 293, 177 A. 403; Dirken v. Great Northern Paper Co., 110 Me. 374, 86 A. 320; State v. Montgomery, 94 Me. 192,......
  • 345 A.2d 504 (Me. 1975), Union Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Emerson
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 8, 1975
    ...may reasonably be conceived to justify it. McGowan v. State of Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 81 S.Ct. 1101, 6 L.Ed.2d 393 (1961); State v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775 (1936). There can be no differences in the treatment of persons under law except upon Page 508 some reasonable differentiation fai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • 281 A.2d 570 (Me. 1971), State v. Levesque
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • September 29, 1971
    ...The contention that this procedure sets up an arbitrary and capricious classification is without merit. See, State v. King, 1936, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775. 'The fact that a statute (here-a rule) discriminates in favor of a certain class does not make it arbitrary, if the discrimination is foun......
  • 8 A.2d 585 (Me. 1939), Jordan v. Gaines
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 7, 1939
    ...v. Mayo, 106 Me. 62, 75 A. 295, 26 L.R.A., N.S., 502, 20 Ann.Cas. 512; State v. Phillips, 107 Me. 249, 78 A. 283; State of Maine v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775. Speaking of the police power, this Court said in York Harbor Village Corporation v. Libby et al., supra, 126 Me. on page 540, 140 ......
  • 104 A.2d 530 (Me. 1954), Inhabitants of Town of Beals v. Beal
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • March 18, 1954
    ...such as State v. Butler, 105 Me. 91, 73 A. 560, 24 L.R.A.,N.S., 744; State v. Vino Medical Co., 121 Me. 438, 117 A. 588; State v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775; State v. Cohen 133 Me. 293, 177 A. 403; Dirken v. Great Northern Paper Co., 110 Me. 374, 86 A. 320; State v. Montgomery, 94 Me. 192,......
  • 345 A.2d 504 (Me. 1975), Union Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Emerson
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 8, 1975
    ...may reasonably be conceived to justify it. McGowan v. State of Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 81 S.Ct. 1101, 6 L.Ed.2d 393 (1961); State v. King, 135 Me. 5, 188 A. 775 (1936). There can be no differences in the treatment of persons under law except upon Page 508 some reasonable differentiation fai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results