Shaw v. Fox

Citation246 Ky. 342
PartiesShaw v. Fox, County Judge.
Decision Date06 December 1932
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)

8. Constitutional Law. — Legislative classification will not be disturbed by court, unless so manifestly unfounded, arbitrary, or unjust as to impose burden upon, or exclude, one or more of class, without reasonable basis of fact.

Power of classification for legislative purposes rests with Legislature, subject to the constitutional limitation or restriction that it must rest on some natural and reasonable difference which appears reasonable and just in relation to the act in respect to which the classification is proposed.

9. Constitutional Law. — Validity of legislative classification must be determined upon facts of particular case.

10. Constitutional Law. — All doubts as to constitutionality of statute should be resolved in its favor.

11. Constitutional Law. — In determining constitutionality of statute, courts will not inquire into practicability, expediency, or wisdom of enactment.

12. Constitutional Law. — In determining constitutionality of legislative classification, only question is whether statute is within purview of constitutional inhibition, limitation, or restriction.

Constitution does not delegate the power to make, nor does it prohibit the making of, classifications of subjects by the Legislature for legislative purposes, but merely prescribes inhibitions, limitations, or restrictions of the Legislature's power when making the classification for legislative purposes, and the court is authorized to declare its classification invalid only when it contravenes or transgresses one or more of these inhibitions, limitations, or restrictions.

13. Constitutional Law. Court cannot declare legislative classification unconstitutional as violating public policy.

This is so, since it is for the Legislature to determine the public policy so far as state laws are concerned, and its determination thereof is only limited by the Constitutions of the state and of the United States.

14. Constitutional Law. Court cannot inquire into existence or truth of facts recited in preamble to statute.

15. Constitutional Law. Court must assume that existence of facts not embraced in preamble to statute, essential to sustain constitutional classification, was known to Legislature and motivated classification and enactment, where contrary does not appear from preamble or substance of statute.

16. Statutes. Act providing for three magisterial districts in counties having over 250,000 population, and that justices receive salary, and fees go to general fund of county, held not unconstitutional as "local" or "special" law, or "class legislation" (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, sec. 59, subsecs. 1, 18, 29; sec. 60).

Acts 1932, c. 147, by its own terms applicable only to counties having over 250,000 population, and providing, among other things, that the money collected by justices, constables, and deputy constables shall go to the general fund of the county, and that the justices shall receive a salary to be paid by the county, and authorizing and directing the dividing of the county into three magisterial districts, is not violative of Constitution, sec. 59, subsense. 1, 18, 29; sec. 60, as a "local" or "special" law, or as "class legislation," in view of the overexacting demands made upon justice courts in counties having a population in excess of 250,000.

17. Counties. Act substituting salaries for fees of certain county officers in counties having over 250,000 population held not to violate constitutional provision requiring fees of county officers to be regulated by law (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, sec. 106).

18. Justices of the Peace; Sheriffs and Constables. Act providing that justices, clerical assistants, and constables shall receive fixed salary, payable out of county funds, in counties of over 250,000 population, held not invalid because of statutes continuing fee system (Acts 1932, c. 147; Ky. Stats., secs. 1726-1731).

19. Constitutional Law. — One unaffected by unconstitutional provision of statute may not question its constitutionality.

20. Constitutional Law. — Officers elected after enactment of act applicable to counties of over 250,000 population could not complain of section limiting their salaries to less than $5,000 (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, secs. 161, 235).

21. Officers. Act undertaking to fix only salaries of officers elected thereunder held not unconstitutional as changing salary of officer during term for which elected (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, secs. 161, 235).

22. Officers. Legislature has constitutional power by general law to fix officer's salary before commencement of his term.

23. Courts. — Acts authorizing appointment of clerical assistants to justices in counties of over 250,000 population held constitutional (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, sec. 107.

Constitution, sec. 107, authorizes the Legislature to provide by general law for the election or appointment for a term not exceeding four years, of such county or district, ministerial or executive officers as from time to time may be necessary.

24. Constitutional Law. Act limiting justices and constables in counties of over 250,000 population to salary less than $5,000 held not to prejudice constitutional rights of taxpayer of such county, because Constitution allows such officers in other counties to receive annual salary of $5,000 (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, sec. 246).

25. Justices of the Peace. Act requiring payment of $1 on commencement of action in justice's court in county of over 250,000 population held constitutional (Acts 1932, c. 147).

26. Statutes. Act relating to administration of justice in justice courts in counties of over 250,000 population held not unconstitutional as not expressing subject of act in title (Acts 1932, c. 147; Constitution, sec. 51).

Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court





The General Assembly at its 1932 session passed an act (chapter 147) which became a law without the signature of the Governor, entitled:

"An Act to provide for the more efficient and economical administration of justice in courts of justices of the peace in counties containing a population in excess of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000), and to reduce the number of magisterial districts therein, by amending and re-enacting section one thousand seventy-nine (1,079) of the Kentucky Statutes; to provide for the costs and fees thereof and for the payment of the same to the county; for certain reports relating thereto; to fix the compensation and duties of justices of the peace, constables and recorders therein; for the appointment and payment of recorders and assistants, defining their duties and requiring bonds therefrom, with surety; defining certain duties of constables and deputy constables, requiring bonds therefrom, fixing the places of holding such courts and providing for the equipment and maintenance of such places; fixing the filing fees, and providing for rules of practice in said courts and fixing penalties for the violation by said officers of their duties."

James S. Shaw, a resident, taxpayer, and voter of Jefferson county, Ky., instituted this action in the Jefferson circuit court, challenging its constitutionality, and asked an injunction against the county judge of the county, permanently restraining him from dividing the county into three magisterial districts, or otherwise recognizing its validity. A summary of its sections is: Section 1 provides when it takes effect; section 2, that the money collected by justices, constables, deputy constables, shall go to the general fund of the county; section 3, the justices shall receive a salary to be paid by the county; section 4, authorizes the employment of clerks or recorders to be paid a salary by the county in lieu of all other compensation; the fees allowed by law to the justices, constables, and deputy constables shall be turned over by them to the county commissioners or fiscal court; section 5 provides how the records of the justices court shall be kept; section 6, for the delivery of all fees to the recorders by the justices, constables, and deputy constables; section 7 requires a report thereof by the recorders to the fiscal court, and that the recorders shall deposit the funds at certain times in the bank; section 8 fixes the liability of the recorders and deputy recorders; section 9 provides for the payment of constables and deputy constables by the fiscal court; section 10 requires the fiscal court to designate a place whereat in each magisterial district in the county the justices of the peace...

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