Davis v. Beeler

Decision Date29 November 1947
Citation207 S.W.2d 343,185 Tenn. 638
PartiesDAVIS et al. v. BEELER, Attorney General, et al.
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied Jan. 16, 1948.

Appeal Dismissed March 27, 1948.

See 68 S.Ct. 745.

Error to Chancery Court, Davidson County; Thos. A. Shriver Chancellor.

Suit by W. E. Davis and others against Roy H. Beeler, Attorney General, and others, to determine validity of statute dealing with practice of naturopathy in the state. To review adverse decree, the complainants bring error.


On Petition to Rehear.

Goodpasture, Carpenter & Dale, of Nashville, for complainants.

Nat Tipton, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendants.

PREWITT Justice.

The purpose of the bill filed in this cause was to determine the validity of Chapter 2 of the Public Acts of 1947. This Act deals with the practice of naturopathy in this State. Section 1 of the Act repeals the Act authorizing the licensing of naturopaths, and section 2 prohibits the practice of naturopathy in this State.

The chancellor upheld the validity of section 1 of the Act, but struck down section 2 because it constituted an unwarranted abuse of the police power of the Legislature and held that naturopathy, being a lawful vocation, could not be prohibited but could only be regulated.

The effect of the chancellor's decree is to remove from the Code the provisions as to licensing of applicants to practice naturopathy, but to leave in effect the licenses granted from 1943 to 1947. It appears that there are some two hundred licensed naturopaths in the State at the present time.

In construing a statute to ascertain the legislative intent, it is permissible to take note of the conditions existing at the time of such an enactment. It appears that at the session of the General Assembly previous to the one enacting this statute a committee was appointed to investigate the unlawful practice of the healing arts, and that the committee made a report to the General Assembly enacting the statute. The report revealed that licenses to practice naturopathy had been issued to wholly unqualified individuals; that they had been purchased; that they had been issued as a result of fraudulent co-operation; that a number of corporations had been chartered by naturopaths to issue certificates of compliance with the educational requirements of existing statutes; and that some of these chartered schools issued diplomas to persons who had attended the schools for a period of time not in excess of one week, but which diplomas certified that the holders thereof were qualified in a number of subjects dealing with the healing arts.

Appellants do not contend that the practices which go to constitute the practice of naturopathy are without benefit in appropriate cases. They take the position further that nothing in the statute in question undertakes to outlaw them nor to prohibit their use by qualified persons.

Naturopathy is defined in Chapter 49 of the Acts of 1943, as amended Williams' Code, § 7025.4, as follows:

'By this Act Naturopathy is permitted to be practiced in the State of Tennessee under the provisions of this Act when a person is so qualified, and means, 'Nature cure or health by natural methods' and is defined as the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human injuries, ailments, and diseases by the use of such physical forces, as air, light, water, vibration, heat, electricity, hydrotherapy, psychotherapy, dietetics, or massage, and the administrations of botanical and biological drugs, but shall not include the administration of narcotics, sulfa drugs and other toxic drugs, or powerful physical agents, such as X-ray and radium therapy, or surgery, the 'minor matters' mentioned in Section 12 (§ 7025.12) of this act to be construed as not including tonsillectomy, the opening of the thoracic or abdominal cavities or other major operations requiring an incision. Provided, that this bill or any language shall not apply to, or in any way affect Medical Doctors.' Pub.Acts 1945, c. 43.

No doubt, in the enactment of the Act now under consideration by us, the Legislature was seeking to cure the evils connected with the issuance of licenses to practice naturopathy, and in view of the fact that investigations disclosed that these licenses had been issued in a number of cases to persons totally unqualified was to take steps against the holders of such licenses, and not to outlaw the acts constituting such. The Act contains no prohibition against the performance of these acts, but merely makes it unlawful for such person to practice naturopathy.

As we conceive the legislative intent, as gathered from the face of the statute and from conditions existing at the time, is that the prohibition leveled by it was directed at the persons engaged in the practice of naturopathy in this State, and that this legislative purpose was evidenced first, by a bar to all future licensing of such and second, by a prohibition against the use of the licenses theretofore issued. The legislative attempt, in enacting the statute under consideration, was to prevent the practice of naturopathy by ones having only limited qualifications and not possessing what might be termed a general practitioner's or osteopath's certificate, and it cannot be held that the Legislature intended to prohibit the performance of the acts.

Physicians are licensed under Chapter 181 of the Public Acts of 1945, and osteopaths under section 7003 et seq. of Williams' Code. No prohibition exists against these generally licensed practitioners from performing the acts in question and when the three statutory schemes are read together and as a whole, it appears that the Legislature does not deny to osteopaths or general practitioners the right to use the methods employed by the complainants but simply sought to regulate the employment of those methods and to confine them to those having a general qualification. The effect of the statutes governing the practice of medicine, the practice of osteopathy, and the present statute is that no person shall practice naturopathy unless he be licensed either as a general practitioner or as an osteopath. It cannot be disputed that the Legislature has the right to require a general practitioner's license for those who desire to practice a limited branch of the healing arts. The present statute may be treated as one imposing additional qualifications upon persons already in the practice of the profession. Hawker v. New York, 170 U.S. 189, 18 S.Ct. 573, 42 L.Ed. 1002; Reetz v. Michigan, 188 U.S. 505, 23 S.Ct. 390, 47 L.Ed. 563. The present statute discloses an effort on the part of the Legislature to regulate one phase of the healing arts and should be construed in pari materia with other statutes upon this subject.

In Howard & Herrin v. N. C. & St. L. Ry. Co., 153 Tenn. 649, 660, 284 S.W. 894, 897, 46 A.L.R. 1530, the Court said:

'Statutes forming a system or scheme should be construed so as to make that scheme consistent in all its parts and uniform in its operation. Harris v. State, 96 Tenn. 496, 34 S.W. 1017; [Stonega] Coke & Coal Co. v. [Southern] Steel Co., 123 Tenn. 428, 131 S.W. 988, 31 L.R.A.,N.S., 278; Bird v. State, 131 Tenn. 518, 175 S.W. 554, Ann.Cas.1917A, 634. All acts in pari materia should be taken together as if one law. Merriman v. Lacefield, 51 Tenn. 209.'

Nowhere in this statute or in any of the related statutes can there be found prohibition against the use of these methods by persons otherwise qualified and licensed to use them. By obtaining a general practitioner's license or license to practice osteopathy, persons may pursue the practice of naturopathy without legal restraint. Stated in another way, this statute merely required that persons desiring to practice naturopathy shall obtain a general practitioner's license or one to practice osteopathy. Such a construction permits the science to be used by general practitioners and by osteopaths. The statute in question is aimed at the practitioner and not at the science. The evident intent of the Legislature was to withdraw recognition of naturopathy as a separate branch of the healing arts but allows the use of its methods. Any person now licensed to practice naturopathy may continue the use of such methods by obtaining the additional knowledge required to qualify as a general practitioner or as an osteopath.

In Commonwealth v. Zimmerman, 221 Mass. 184, 108 N.E. 893, 895, Ann.Cas.1916A, 858, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in sustaining such requirement, gives its reason as follows:

'* * * The protection of the public from those who undertake to treat or manipulate the human body without that degree of education, training and skill which the Legislature has prescribed as necessary to the general safety of the people is within the police power of the state. This general purpose may be effectuated by requiring even of those who propose to confine their practice to a narrow speciality a much broader knowledge of the subject provided such qualification is regarded by the Legislature as necessary for the practice of any branch of medicine. The statute does not impair in any constitutional sense the liberty of the defendant. The protection of the public health is an object of such vital importance to the welfare of the state that any rational means to that end must be upheld.'

In State v. Smith, 233 Mo. 242, 135 S.W. 465, 472, the same insistence was made and rejected by the Supreme Court of Missouri in the following language:

'* * * The Legislature thought, perhaps, that this act was necessary to protect credulous sick people from injury at the hands of charlatans and quacks, with their specious promises of a sure cure without drugs; or it may have been thought necessary to forbid harmless...

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  • Lee Medical, Inc. v. Beecher
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    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • May 24, 2010
    ...S.W.2d 910, 912 (Tenn. 1995). 22 Davis v. Aluminum Co. of Am., 204 Tenn. 135, 143, 316 S.W.2d 24, 27 (1958); Davis v. Beeler, 185 Tenn. 638, 642-43, 207 S.W.2d 343, 345 (1948) 23 Eastman Chem. Co. v. Johnson, 151 S.W.3d 503, 507 (Tenn.2004); Steele v. Indus. Dev. Bd. of Metro. Gov't of Nash......
  • State v. Pruitt
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • May 25, 2016
    ...with regard to ex post facto analysis. See Stinson v. State , 208 Tenn. 159, 344 S.W.2d 369, 372 (1961) ; Davis v. Beeler , 185 Tenn. 638, 207 S.W.2d 343, 349–50 (1947). Then, in Miller v. State , 584 S.W.2d 758 (Tenn. 1979), this Court determined that the state constitution provided broade......
  • State v. Pruitt
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    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • December 30, 2016
    ...federal precedent with regard to ex post facto analysis. See Stinson v. State, 344 S.W.2d 369, 372 (Tenn. 1961); Davis v. Beeler, 207 S.W.2d 343, 349-50 (Tenn. 1947). Then, in Miller v. State, 584 S.W.2d 758 (Tenn. 1979), this Court determined that the state constitution provided broader ex......
  • Idaho Ass'n of Naturopathic Physicians, Inc. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • August 28, 1978
    ...the Court based its dispositions. Mandel v. Bradley, 432 U.S. at 180, 97 S.Ct. 2238 (Brennan, J., concurring). In Davis v. Beeler, 185 Tenn. 638, 207 S.W.2d 343 (1947), Appeal dismissed for want of a substantial federal question, 333 U.S. 859, 68 S.Ct. 745, 92 L.Ed. 1138 (1948), naturopaths......
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