St. Paul v. Laidler

Decision Date01 January 1858
Citation2 Minn. 190
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

1. The ordinance in question is fully authorized by a special provision of the charter already quoted, to-wit, authorizing the common council "to establish public markets," and "make rules and regulations for the government of the same." The right to establish a public market necessarily implies all the needful and usual powers requisite for the purpose; and the power to make rules and regulations for the same, implies the power to pass all ordinances which may be enacted relative to a public market, and would therefore embrace the very common regulation of requiring retailers of fresh meat to sell in the public market. The fixing the place and times at which markets shall be held and kept open, and the prohibition to sell at other places and times, is among the most ordinary regulations of a city or town police, and would naturally be included in the general power to pass laws "relative to the public markets." If the corporation had not the power in question, it is difficult to see what useful purpose could be effected, or what object was intended, by the grant of the power to pass laws "relative to the public markets." "The mere regulation of the building and the stalls of those who might choose to go there, instead of elsewhere, to sell their market provision, would be an idle and useless power, and of no moment towards the good government of the village." Opinion of the court in the case of Bush v. Seabury, 8 Johns. 420. The ordinance in question, therefore, is authorized by a special grant of power, and the question of its validity does not rest upon the common law powers of the corporation.

2. The ordinance in question is constitutional and valid. Bush v. Seabury, ante; Village of Buffalo v. Webster, 10 Wend. 100. The regulations of the sale of fresh meat by retail is so common, that it is unnecessary to cite the numerous precedents that might be adduced from other cities; and the nature and character of such regulations must depend upon the views of policy of the municipal authorities, who, it is presumed, will establish such regulations, in this respect, as will best subserve the wants and convenience of the community they represent. It has been considered, in most cities, highly desirable to establish a public market which might be conducted and supervised under the eye of the public authorities; so that on the one hand, the public might be protected from abuse, imposition or nuisance, which might be incident to this business, and on the other hand, by collecting those engaged in the trade together, there would be more competition, and the public would have greater facilities in obtaining these important articles of provision. Such reasons have undoubtedly actuated the common council, in this instance, in establishing the present public market of the city, which has been sustained and kept open nearly from the commencement of our city government to the present time.

The defendant in error claimed:

1. The ordinance is in restraint of trade. A municipal ordinance in restraint of trade is void unless supported by a direct grant of authority from the supreme legislature, or by a special prescriptive custom, citing Angell & Ames on Corp. 332-3; Clark v. LeCren, 9 Barn. & Cress. 52; Harrison v. Godman, 1 Burr. 12; Chamberlain v. Compton, 7 Dow. & Ry. 601; The King v. Cooper's Co. 7 Durnf. and E. 543; Dunham v. Trustees of Rochester, 5 Cow. 462; Freeholders v. Barber, 2 Halst. 64; Village of Buffalo v. Webster, 10 Wend. 100.

2. The ordinance is not authorized by the charter.

3. Whether the provisions of an ordinance are in restraint of trade, and whether they are reasonable, just and necessary, and made in sound discretion, are questions for the judiciary to determine.











H. J. Horn, for plaintiff in error.

Lorenzo Allis, for defendant in error.


The defendant in error was convicted, before the city justice of the city of Saint Paul, of the violation of the following ordinance of said city, viz.: "It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to sell or expose for sale fresh meat, (poultry and venison excepted,) in any quantity at any time or in any building or street or other place whatever within the limits of the city of Saint Paul, excepting in the stalls of a public market established and designated by the common council, unless such person or persons shall have first obtained a license, as hereinafter provided by this ordinance; provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any person or persons from selling or exposing for sale in the streets in the immediate vicinity of such public markets or elsewhere, fresh meat by the carcass or quarter, according to such regulations as the common council shall from time to time ordain."

The defendant appealed from the judgment entered against him to the district court of Ramsey county, where the judgment was reversed. The plaintiff below brings the case to this court by writ of error.

In considering the important question presented by the case, it will be necessary to refer to one or two other sections in the same ordinance as that above referred to. Sec. three provides, "That the common council shall, from year to year, determine the minimum rents of all of the stalls in the public markets of the city; and it shall be the duty of the market master to offer for sale at public auction, to the highest bidder, all such stalls, at such time and place as the common council shall designate; but no stall shall be rented for a less sum than the minimum rents determined as aforesaid."

Sec. 4. "When any person shall rent a stall in the public market house, he shall pay to the market master one-fourth of the annual rent in advance, and shall give security satisfactory to the committee on markets for the remainder thereof, to be paid in three installments and on the commencement of each quarter of the next year ensuing."

Sec. 5. "It shall be the duty of the city clerk to keep a record of the number of stalls so leased, and the names of the lessees; and it shall be the duty of all persons transferring leases to stalls to notify the city clerk, who shall, upon the production of a receipt from the market master for the sum of ten dollars, transfer the same as desired; and no stall shall be used or occupied by any one except the lessee, until after the payment to the market master of the sum of ten dollars, and the transfer of the lease."

Sec. 36. "The common council may license any suitable person or persons to sell fresh meat within the limits of said city, out of the public market, at any particular place to be in said license specified, for a period not longer than one year; provided, that such license shall terminate on the second Tuesday of May next ensuing the time at which it may be granted; and shall be revocable at the pleasure of the common council; and the amount of such license shall be fixed by the common council."

Sec. 43. Provides that the present market house leased by the city shall be established as a public market of said city, subject to all the regulations and provisions of this ordinance.

These are all the provisions of the ordinance that seem to have a bearing upon the question presented for the consideration of this court. The power to pass the ordinance containing these provisions is claimed particularly under §§ 18 and 19 of the charter of the city of St. Paul, which are as follows: —

Sec. 18. "To establish a public market and other public buildings, and make rules and regulations for the government of the same; to appoint suitable officers for overseeing and regulating such markets, and to restrain all persons from interrupting or interfering with the due observance of such rules and regulations."

Sec. 19. "To license and regulate butcher stall shops and stands for the sale of game, poultry, butchers' meat, butter, fish, and other provisions."

The chief point for consideration in the case is, whether the ordinance under which the defendant below was convicted is one in restraint of trade. If so, it seems to be conceded by the counsel for both parties, that it is unauthorized and void.

The city of Saint Paul is a municipal corporation, organized and established to accomplish certain purposes and objects particularly specified in its charter. The city government derives its power and authority to make and enforce laws for the government of the city solely from the legislature. It is entirely a creature of the statute, and in the exercise of its authority cannot exceed the limits therein prescribed. It is a body of special and limited jurisdiction; its powers cannot be extended by intendment or implication, but must be confined within the express grant of the legislature. Especially is this the case in the exercise of its legislative authority, or the power of making ordinances or laws for the government of the city; and not only so, but this power must be exercised reasonably and in sound discretion, and strictly within the limits of the charter, and in perfect subordination to the constitution and general laws of the land, and the rights dependent thereon (2 Kent. 296); and where the charter enables a company or corporation to make by-laws (or ordinances), in certain cases and for certain purposes, its power of legislation is limited to the cases and objects specified; all others being excluded by implication....

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