Lemaire v. Crockett

Decision Date03 July 1917
Citation116 Me. 263,101 A. 302
PartiesLEMAIRE v. CROCKETT et al.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

Appeal from Supreme Judicial Court, Androscoggin County, in Equity.

Action by Charles P. Lemaire against Ralph W. Crockett and others. Prom a judgment overruling a demurrer to and dismissing the bill, plaintiff appeals. Bill and appeal sustained, and decree ordered in accordance with opinion.

Argued before CORNISH, C. J., and SPEAR, KING, BIRD, HANSON, and MADIGAN, JJ.

McGillicuddy & Morey, of Lewiston, for appellant. Ralph W. Crockett, of Lewiston, for appellees.

CORNISH, C. J. This is a bill in equity, brought by the plaintiff, as mayor of the city of Lewiston, against the three members of the police commission appointed under an act of the Legislature approved March 8, 1917, entitled "An act to provide a police commission for the city of Lewiston and to promote the efficiency of the police department thereof." The bill asks this court to declare that the Legislature had no constitutional power to pass the act with the emergency clause attached, that the act is rendered thereby invalid, that all appointments already made by the defendants are of no effect, and that the defendants be enjoined from interfering with, controlling, or directing the police force of the city of Lewiston.

The defendants filed an answer to the bill, with a demurrer inserted therein. The sitting justice ruled as follows:

"To sustain this bill would be to rule in effect that the police commission act is unconstitutional, in that it infringes the right of home rule. But, according to the established and uniform course of procedure in this state, a statute will be presumed by a single justice to be constitutional until the contrary has been established by the law court."

He accordingly ruled pro forma that the act was constitutional, and dismissed the bill, at the same time overruling the demur-j»er.

Two questions are involved: First, whether the act violates section 16 of the thirty-first amendment to the Constitution, that an emergency bill shall not include an infringement of the right of home rule for municipalities; second, if it is such a violation, whether the act is wholly unconstitutional, or only the emergency clause is invalid, leaving the act itself valid, and subject to the referendum, if invoked.

Section 16 of article 31 of the Constitution of this state, adopted by the people in 1908, and commonly known as the emergency clause of the initiative and referendum provides as follows:

"Sec. 16. No act or joint resolution of the Legislature, except such orders or resolutions as pertain solely to facilitating the performance of the business of the Legislature, of either branch, or of any committee or officer thereof, or appropriate money therefor or for the payment of salaries fixed by law, shall take effect until ninety days after the recess of the Legislature passing it, unless in case of emergency (which with the facts constituting the emergency shall be expressed in the preamble of the act), the Legislature shall, by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, otherwise direct. An emergency bill shall include only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety and shall not include (1) an infringement of the right of home rule for municipalities," etc.

The last clause is the one vitally involved here. Did the act creating this police commission, and taking the entire management and control of the police department of the city of Lewiston away from the municipal officers, where this power had resided since 1880, and giving it to a commission of three appointed by the Governor, constitute an infringement of the right of home rule, as prohibited in the Constitution? If it did, the Legislature was expressly prohibited by the Constitution from attaching to it the emergency clause, thereby taking from the people the right to invoke the referendum, and causing the act to go into effect immediately upon its approval by the Governor.

In our opinion, this act did infringe upon the right of home rule under the facts of this case, and therefore the emergency clause was invalid.

The Constitution of this state confers upon the Legislature

"full power to make and establish all reasonable laws and regulations for the defense and benefit of the people of this state, not repugnant to this Constitution, nor to that of the United States." Article 4, pt. 3, § 1.

As was said in the Opinion of the Justices, 99 Me. 531, 60 Atl. 85:

"One of the main purposes of this general grant of power was to vest in the Legislature a superintending and controlling authority, under and by virtue of which they might enact all laws, not repugnant to the Constitution, of a police and municipal nature, and necessary to the due regulation of the internal affairs of the commonwealth."

The exercise of such a power is absolutely indispensable in a well-governed community.

A necessary corollary to this fundamental proposition is this: That the Legislature has the constitutional power to designate the instrumentality which shall execute and carry into effect the laws made for the benefit of the people under this section. It may intrust their execution to a board created by itself and to be appointed in a designated way, or to the municipality itself where the power is to be executed. The latter is the more common method. But, having adopted one method, the Legislature is not forever bound thereby, but may substitute another, whenever it sees fit Commonwealth v. Plaisted, 148 Mass. 375-386, 19 N. E. 224, 2 L. R. A. 142, 12 Am. St. Rep. 566.

In this instance it is obvious that, prior to passage of the police commission bill in 1917, the right to regulate and control the police...

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4 cases
  • State ex rel. Heinig v. City of Milwaukie
    • United States
    • Oregon Supreme Court
    • July 25, 1962
    ...of the police department: Richards v. Wheeler, 10 Cal.App.2d 108, 51 P.2d 436 (1935) (police and firemen's pensions); Lemaire v. Crockett, 116 Me. 263, 101 A. 302 (1917) (appointment of city police commissioner); State ex rel. Canada v. Phillips, 168 Ohio St. 191, 151 N.E.2d 722 (1958) (sel......
  • W. S. Libbey Co. v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • February 3, 1953
    ...the acts in which they were carried if appropriately challenged. It is undoubted, however, under the principle declared in Lemaire v. Crockett, 116 Me. 263, 101 A. 302, that each and all of them became effective after the expiration of ninety days from the adjournment of the For the purpose......
  • Inhabitants of Town of Cambridge v. Hosp. Admin. Dist. No. 4
    • United States
    • Maine Superior Court
    • July 24, 2020
    ...effect would be to change the effective date of the legislation to the same date as all other non-emergency legislation. Lemaire v. Crockett, 116 Me. 263 (1917); Tinkle, The Maine State Constitution 101 at 99-100 (2d ed. 2013). That is to say, the remedy would be to change the effective dat......
  • Farris ex rel. Anderson v. Colley
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • April 12, 1950
    ...board of finance. P. & S.L.1917, Ch. 37; P. & S.L.1939, Ch. 8; P. & S.L.1945, Ch. 131; P. & S.L.1947, Ch. 113. See also Lemaire v. Crockett, 1917, 116 Me. 263, 101 A. 302. In Portland the distribution of such authority is found in the charter and not There is much more at stake in the prese......

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