Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, No. 25829.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation596 S.E.2d 917,359 S.C. 85
Docket NumberNo. 25829.
Decision Date24 May 2004
PartiesDENENE, INC., d/b/a Trio Club, L.C. Entertainments, LLC, d/b/a Club Tango, and Let's Eat, Inc., d/b/a Port Side Cafe Uptown, Appellants, v. CITY OF CHARLESTON, Respondent.

359 S.C. 85
596 S.E.2d 917

DENENE, INC., d/b/a Trio Club, L.C. Entertainments, LLC, d/b/a Club Tango, and Let's Eat, Inc., d/b/a Port Side Cafe Uptown, Appellants,
v.
CITY OF CHARLESTON, Respondent

No. 25829.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard April 7, 2004.

Decided May 24, 2004.


359 S.C. 90
John F. Martin, of Charleston, for Appellants

William B. Regan and Francis I. Cantwell, both of Regan & Cantwell, of Charleston, for Respondent.

Justice WALLER:

Appellants filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to invalidate an ordinance requiring that all commercial establishments within the city of Charleston, which serve alcohol for on-site consumption, close at 2 a.m. Both appellants and the City of Charleston (City) moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied appellants' motion for summary judgment and granted City's motion. We affirm.

FACTS

On July 18, 2000, City enacted an ordinance requiring that:

Commercial establishments which allow for the on-premises consumption of beer, ale, porter and/or wine shall be prohibited from operating between the hours 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Mondays through Saturdays.

Prior to voting on the ordinance, the Charleston City Council (Council) offered public debate on the issue. A number of citizens complained about noise, vandalism, crime, litter, lewd acts, public urination, and general quality of life, and believed closing the bars at 2 a.m. would diminish those problems. A number of other citizens spoke against the ordinance.

After the ordinance was ratified, appellants, who own several bars in Charleston, filed a declaratory judgment action challenging the ordinance. The complaint alleged that: the ordinance was preempted1 by state law; the ordinance violated appellants' equal protection rights; the ordinance violated appellants' right to due process; and, the ordinance was a

359 S.C. 91
taking in violation of Article I, § 13, of the South Carolina Constitution

ISSUES

1. Did the trial court err in finding that the ordinance does not violate appellants' equal protection rights?
2. Did the trial court err in finding that the ordinance does not violate appellants' due process rights?
3. Did the trial court err in finding that the ordinance is not a regulatory taking without compensation?

1. EQUAL PROTECTION

Appellants argue the trial court erred in finding that the ordinance is subject to review under the rational basis standard. Appellants also claim the ordinance is invalid because it is selectively enforced. We disagree.

a. Proper Standard of Review

Courts generally analyze equal protection challenges under one of three standards: (1) rational basis; (2) intermediate scrutiny; or, (3) strict scrutiny. 16B Am.Jur.2d Constitutional Law § 812 (1998). If the classification does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational basis test is used. City of Cleburne, Tex. v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439-40, 105 S.Ct. 3249, 87 L.Ed.2d 313 (1985). "When social or economic legislation is at issue, the Equal Protection Clause allows the states wide latitude, and the Constitution presumes that even improvident decisions will eventually be rectified by the democratic processes." Id. (internal citations omitted).

Under the rational basis test, the requirements of equal protection are satisfied when: (1) the classification bears a reasonable relation to the legislative purpose sought to be affected; (2) the members of the class are treated alike under similar circumstances and conditions; and, (3) the classification rests on some reasonable basis. Fraternal Order of Police v. South Carolina Dep't of Rev., 352 S.C. 420, 430, 574 S.E.2d 717, 722 (2002); Gary Concrete Products, Inc. v. Riley, 285 S.C. 498, 504, 331 S.E.2d 335, 339 (1985).

359 S.C. 92
The record clearly indicates the ordinance was passed to alleviate problems caused by intoxicated people in Charleston during the proscribed hours. Mayor Riley testified that the growth of bars and restaurants serving alcohol after 2 a.m. in Charleston created an intolerable burden on the citizens of the city. Riley stated that Council passed the ordinance because of noise and other problems late at night, and that Council felt it was appropriate to require commercial establishments that serve alcohol to close at a more reasonable hour. Further, Mayor Riley noted that residential areas are in close proximity to bars and nightclubs in Charleston, and that Council was simply trying to establish a "reasonable zone of peace and quiet in our town and for our citizens."

Henry Fishburne, president of the Charles Towne Neighborhood Association and a Council member, testified that Council had numerous complaints about late night activities, which led Council to consider the ordinance. Fishburne also went on a "ride along" with Charleston police, and testified he saw large numbers of people partying, littering, and urinating in the streets and outside of bars late at night.

Lieutenant Charles Hawkins, of the Charleston City Police Department, testified that he observed drinking, noise, public urination, and vandalism in the late night hours in Charleston. Hawkins also testified that the problems related to late night drinking prevented officers from responding to more serious crimes in the area.

Citing City of Myrtle Beach v. Juel P. Corp. & Gay Dolphin, Inc., 344 S.C. 43, 543 S.E.2d 538 (2001), appellants argue that the ordinance should be strictly construed because it is in derogation of their "common law right to use private property so as to realize its highest utility." However, appellants stretch the language they cite in Gay Dolphin, which involved a Myrtle Beach ordinance prohibiting abandoned and obsolete signs. While the Court in Gay Dolphin did hold that ordinances in derogation of the natural rights of a person over their property are to be strictly construed, the case did not involve equal protection and did not involve the health, safety, or welfare of the general population.

A municipality has the power to enact regulations for the purpose of preserving the health, safety, welfare, and

359 S.C. 93
comfort of dwellers in urban centers, particularly in regard to alcohol. City of Charleston v. Esau Jenkins, 243 S.C. 205, 209, 133 S.E.2d 242, 244 (1963). As this Court stated in Main v. Thomason:
[t]he government is empowered by the state and federal constitutions with the authority to legislate for the protection of the public health, welfare, and morals. Courts will not interfere with the enforcement of regulations designed for the protection of health, welfare, and safety of citizens unless they are determined to be unreasonable. The exercise of police power is subject to judicial correction only if the action is arbitrary and has no reasonable relation to a lawful purpose.

342 S.C. 79, 86-7, 535 S.E.2d 918, 922-23 (2000) (internal citations omitted); see also Gary v. City of Warner Robins, Ga., 311 F.3d 1334, 1338-39 (11th Cir.2002) (ordinance that barred persons under the age of twenty-one from entering or working at any establishment selling alcohol, but not food, for on-premises consumption, was subject to rational basis review rather than strict scrutiny in an equal protection challenge); Other Place of Miami, Inc. v. City of Hialeah Gardens, 353 So.2d 861, 863 (Fla.3rd App. Dist.1977) (ordinances curtailing the closing hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages from 3:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. were a valid exercise of the city's police powers).

We find the ordinance is rationally based and reasonably related to furthering a legitimate government purpose. Council, after allowing debate and public input, determined that the operation of bars between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. had detrimental effects on the quality of life of residents and upon the city in general. Council legitimately sought to address those...

To continue reading

Request your trial
26 practice notes
  • Retail Servs. & Sys., Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Revenue, Appellate Case No. 2014-002728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 29, 2017
    ...of the power particular occupations may be ... required to be conducted within designated limits." Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston , 359 S.C. 85, 98, 596 S.E.2d 917, 924 (2004) (quoting City of Charleston v. Esau Jenkins , 243 S.C. 205, 210–11, 133 S.E.2d 242, 244 (1963) ). This mandate ......
  • Dunes W. Golf Club, LLC v. Town of Mount Pleasant, No. 27208.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 9, 2013
    ...does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational basis test is used. Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 91, 596 S.E.2d 917, 920 (2004) (“ ‘When social or economic legislation is at issue, the Equal Protection Clause allows the states wide latitud......
  • Joseph v. S.C. Dep't of Labor, Appellate Case No. 2014–001115
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 14, 2016
    ...does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational basis test is used. Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 91, 596 S.E.2d 917, 920 (2004) (citation omitted). Under the rational basis test, the Court must determine: (1) whether the law treats similar......
  • Maxwell's Pic–Pac, Inc. v. Dehner, Civil Action No. 3:11–CV–18–H.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • October 3, 2012
    ...review include: an ordinance forcing bars to close at 2:00 a.m., but not alcohol-serving hotels, Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 596 S.E.2d 917, 921 (2004); a statutory scheme banning Sunday alcohol sales in bars, but giving local governments the option to allow such sales ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • Retail Servs. & Sys., Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Revenue, Appellate Case No. 2014-002728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 29, 2017
    ...of the power particular occupations may be ... required to be conducted within designated limits." Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston , 359 S.C. 85, 98, 596 S.E.2d 917, 924 (2004) (quoting City of Charleston v. Esau Jenkins , 243 S.C. 205, 210–11, 133 S.E.2d 242, 244 (1963) ). This mandate ......
  • Dunes W. Golf Club, LLC v. Town of Mount Pleasant, No. 27208.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 9, 2013
    ...does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational basis test is used. Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 91, 596 S.E.2d 917, 920 (2004) (“ ‘When social or economic legislation is at issue, the Equal Protection Clause allows the states wide latitud......
  • Joseph v. S.C. Dep't of Labor, Appellate Case No. 2014–001115
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 14, 2016
    ...does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational basis test is used. Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 91, 596 S.E.2d 917, 920 (2004) (citation omitted). Under the rational basis test, the Court must determine: (1) whether the law treats similar......
  • Maxwell's Pic–Pac, Inc. v. Dehner, Civil Action No. 3:11–CV–18–H.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • October 3, 2012
    ...review include: an ordinance forcing bars to close at 2:00 a.m., but not alcohol-serving hotels, Denene, Inc. v. City of Charleston, 359 S.C. 85, 596 S.E.2d 917, 921 (2004); a statutory scheme banning Sunday alcohol sales in bars, but giving local governments the option to allow such sales ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT