Joseph H. Munson Co., Inc. v. Secretary of State, 925

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation426 A.2d 985,48 Md.App. 273
Docket NumberNo. 925,925
PartiesJOSEPH H. MUNSON COMPANY, INC. v. SECRETARY OF STATE for the State of Maryland.
Decision Date11 March 1981

James G. Klair, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom Argued before GILBERT, C. J., and MORTON and MOORE, JJ.

was Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, on the brief, for appellee.

GILBERT, Chief Judge.

Sometimes a government, in its zeal to protect the governed, enacts laws that trespass unnecessarily upon the constitutional rights of some of the governed. It is extremely difficult in regulating any practice, custom, business, or industry not to trample, to a degree, upon the constitutional rights of someone. Governmental intrusion upon the constitutional rights of one group for the protection of a larger group, while looked upon with disfavor, is not, however, ipso facto invalid. The test is not whether there has been an infringement upon the rights of those regulated, but rather, whether the regulation unnecessarily encroaches on the rights of the regulated.

In this appeal, we must examine a State statute in order to determine whether it is unconstitutional.

The Preamble to Laws 1976, ch. 679 1 provides in part:

"The Governor on August 16, 1974, created a Commission on Charitable Organizations to examine the existing statutes and to make recommendations. The Commission concluded its work and found that the present laws 2 were inadequate and recommended the original bills (S.B. 287, H.B. 487) in their unamended form. These bills as introduced by the Administration were nearly identical to the 'Model for State Legislation Regulating Charitable Organizations' and endorsed by the numerous National Voluntary Health Agencies."

The Preamble also stated that bills had been "introduced in the 1975 Session as a result of impetus coming" from publications in which it was alleged that "various organizations soliciting funds from the public had excessively high administrative and other expenses, which resulted in a relatively Obviously, chapter 679 was enacted with the intent of protecting the public by assuring that the organization that solicited the funds was regulated as to the amount of monies that went toward "expenses in connection with ... (the) fund-raising activity." Section 3 of that chapter created what is now also known as Md.Ann.Code art. 41, § 103D. That section provides:

small portion of the contributions ... being used for their intended purpose."

"(a) A charitable organization other than a charitable salvage organization may not pay or agree to pay as expenses in connection with any fund-raising activity a total amount in excess of 25 percent of the total gross income raised or received by reason of the fund-raising activity. The Secretary of State shall, by rule or regulation in accordance with the 'standard of accounting and fiscal reporting for voluntary health and welfare organizations' provide for the reporting of actual costs, and of allocation of expenses, of a charitable organization into those which are in connection with a fund-raising activity and those which are not. The Secretary of State shall issue rules and regulations to permit a charitable organization to pay or agree to pay for expenses in connection with a fund-raising activity more than 25% of its total gross income in those instances where the 25% limitation would effectively prevent the charitable organization from raising contributions.

The 25% limitation in this subsection shall not apply to compensation or expenses paid by a charitable organization to a professional fund-raiser counsel for conducting feasibility studies for the purpose of determining whether or not the charitable organization should undertake a fund-raising activity, such compensation or expenses paid for feasibility studies or preliminary planning not being considered to be expenses paid in connection with a fund-raising activity.

(b) For purposes of this section, the total gross income raised or received shall be adjusted so as not to include contributions received equal to the actual cost to the charitable organization of (1) goods, food, entertainment, or drink sold or provided to the public, nor should these costs be included as fund-raising costs; (2) the actual postage paid to the United States Postal Service and printing expenses in connection with the soliciting of contributions, nor should these costs be included as fund-raising costs.

(c) Every contract or agreement between a professional fund-raiser counsel or a professional solicitor and a charitable organization shall be in writing, and a copy of it shall be filed with the Secretary of State within ten days after it is entered into and prior to any solicitations."

Joseph H. Munson Company, Inc., and Indiana corporation (Munson), and a "promotion business," was desirous of entering into a contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, Montgomery County Chapter (F.O.P.). Munson was to raise funds for F.O.P., an organization, described in the stipulations of facts, which was engaged in the dissemination of information and the promotion of causes on behalf of police officers. Because of the fee limitations prescribed in the statute referred to above, no contractual relationship developed between Munson and F.O.P.

Apparently believing itself unlawfully barred from doing business in Maryland because of section 103D, Munson filed, in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, a bill of complaint in which it sought a declaratory decree that would hold section 103D unconstitutional. The Secretary of State for the State of Maryland (Secretary) was named as defendant. The court was asked to enjoin permanently the enforcement of the registration provisions and the civil or criminal sanctions permitted by that statute. 3

The case was heard in the circuit court by Judge Eugene M. Lerner on a stipulation of facts. The judge held that Munson was not entitled to declaratory relief "since ... (Munson) has not exhausted its administrative remedies." Furthermore, the trial judge stated that there was no improper delegation of authority to the Secretary of State, and that the statute is constitutional.

On appeal to this Court, Munson poses three questions which we believe may be stated fairly in but one, 4 scilicet:

Is Md.Ann.Code art. 41, § 103D unconstitutional on the basis that it infringes on the First Amendment right of freedom of speech, and is it an impermissible delegation of legislative authority to the Secretary?


Before we undertake to discuss the constitutionality vel non of section 103D, we must first consider the Secretary's contention that Munson lacks standing to challenge the statute and, therefore, is not a proper party to have brought the suit in the first instance.

Our review of the record discloses that in response to the original bill of complaint the Secretary, in a motion to dismiss, averred inter alia that Munson was not an "interested ... (party) asserting adverse claims...." The motion was heard by Judge H. Chester Goudy, Jr., who granted the dismissal in part and denied it in part. Significantly, he did not rule upon Munson's standing as an "interested party."

Subsequently, Munson filed an amended bill. The Secretary answered it without posing any question as to Munson's being an "interested party." Nevertheless, the Secretary did raise the question minimally in a Memorandum of Law that it submitted to Judge Lerner. We characterize the standing issue as minimally posited because in eleven pages of typing the only reference to standing is the single sentence, "The ... (Secretary) seriously questions ... (Munson's) standing to seek a declaratory judgment."

Apparently the Assistant Attorney General, representing the Secretary, had misgivings about the inattention given to standing in his Memorandum of Law because approximately two weeks later he submitted to Judge Lerner a "Supplemental Memorandum of Law." In the supplement, he dispelled any doubt as to the Secretary's position with respect to Munson's standing inasmuch as the entire supplemental memorandum is devoted exclusively to that question.

Judge Lerner, in his "Memorandum Opinion and Order," did not, however, address the issue of standing but denied relief strictly on the questions of constitutionality.

Md.Rule 1085 provides in part that "(t)his Court will not ordinarily decide any point or question which does not plainly appear ... to have been tried and decided by the lower court...."

We decline to consider the issue of standing because it was not decided by Judge Lerner inasmuch as he made his decision on other grounds. Md.Rule 1085. But see, Village of Schaumberg v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 444 U.S. 620, 634, 100 S.Ct. 826, 834-35, 63 L.Ed.2d 73 (1980); Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 486, 85 S.Ct. 1116, 1121, 14 L.Ed.2d 22 (1964); United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 21, 80 S.Ct. 519, 522, 4 L.Ed.2d 524 (1960); Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 97-98, 60 S.Ct. 736, 742, 84 L.Ed.2d 1093 (1939).


The Supreme Court has held that the regulation of charitable solicitation is a function of the State's police power and a fulfillment of its duty to protect its citizens from fraudulent charitable organizations. Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell, 425 U.S. 610, 96 S.Ct. 1755, 48 L.Ed.2d 243 (1976). The Court has also recognized that First Amendment freedoms are intertwined with any type of solicitation and should be protected. See Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748, 96 S.Ct. 1817, 48 L.Ed.2d 346 (1976) (commercial solicitation); Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell, supra (charitable and political solicitation); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed.2d 1213 (1940) (religious...

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3 cases
  • Secretary of State of Maryland v. Joseph Munson Company, Inc
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 26 Junio 1984
    ...Maryland. The Secretary did not take a cross-appeal. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court. 48 Md.App. 273, 426 A.2d 985 (1981). Both Munson and the Secretary then petitioned the Court of Appeals of Maryland for writs of certiorari. Munson challenged the va......
  • Joseph H. Munson Co., Inc. v. Secretary of State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 5 Agosto 1982
    ...First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Secretary took no cross-appeal. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, Joseph H. Munson Co. v. Sec. of State, 48 Md.App. 273, 426 A.2d 985 (1981). Munson then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, raising only the free speech issue under the First a......
  • Thomas v. Thomas
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 11 Marzo 1981
    ......the Court of Chancery in this State had full jurisdiction in cases of alimony though ......

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