Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma Lee Optical of Oklahoma v. Williamson, Nos. 184 and 185

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation75 S.Ct. 461,348 U.S. 483,99 L.Ed. 563
Docket NumberNos. 184 and 185
Decision Date28 March 1955
PartiesMae Q. WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, et al., Appellants, v. LEE OPTICAL OF OKLAHOMA, Inc., et al. LEE OPTICAL OF OKLAHOMA, Inc., et al., Appellants, v. Mac Q. WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, et al

348 U.S. 483
75 S.Ct. 461
99 L.Ed. 563
Mae Q. WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, et al., Appellants,

v.

LEE OPTICAL OF OKLAHOMA, Inc., et al. LEE OPTICAL OF OKLAHOMA, Inc., et al., Appellants, v. Mac Q. WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, et al.

Nos. 184 and 185.
Argued March 2, 1955.
Decided March 28, 1955.
Rehearing Denied May 9, 1955.

See 349 U.S. 925, 75 S.Ct. 657.

Mr.

James C. Harkin, Oklahoma City, Okl., for Williamson, et al.

Page 484

Mr.Dick H. Woods, Kansas City, Mo., for Lee Optical, Inc., et al.

Mr. Philip B. Perlman, Washington, D.C., for American Optometric Ass'n, Inc., amicus curiae.

Mr. Herbert A. Bergson, Washington, D.C., for the Guild of Prescription Opticians of America, Inc., et al. amicus curiae.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit was instituted in the District Court to have an Oklahoma law, 59 Okl.Stat.Ann. §§ 941—947, Okl.Laws 1953, c. 13, §§ 1—8, declared unconstitutional and to enjoin state officials from enforcing it, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, 2281, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201, 2202, 2281, for the reason that it allegedly violated various provisions of the Federal Constitution. The matter was heard by a District Court of three judges,

Page 485

as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2281, 28 U.S.C.A. § 2281. That court held certain provisions of the law unconstitutional. 120 F.Supp. 128. The case is here by appeal, 28 U.S.C. § 1253, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1253.

The District Court held unconstitutional portions of three sections of the Act. First, it held invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment the portions of § 2 which make it unlawful for any person not a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist to fit lenses to a face or to duplicate or replace into frames lenses or other optical appliances, except upon written prescriptive authority of an Oklahoma licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. 1

Page 486

An ophthalmologist is a duly licensed physician who specializes in the care of the eyes. An optometrist examines eyes for refractive error, recognizes (but does not treat) diseases of the eye, and fills prescriptions for eyeglasses. The optician is an artisan qualified to grind lenses, fill prescriptions, and fit frames.

The effect of § 2 is to forbid the optician from fitting or duplicating lenses without a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. In practical effect, it means that no optician can fit old glasses into new frames or supply a lens, whether it be a new lens or one to duplicate a lost or broken lens, without a prescription. The District Court conceded that it was in the competence of the police power of a State to regulate the examination of the eyes. But it rebelled at the notion that a State could require a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist 'to take old lenses and place them in new frames and then fit the completed spectacles to the face of the eyeglass wearer.' 120 F.Supp., at page 135. It held that such a requirement was not 'reasonably and rationally related to the health and welfare of the people.' Id., at 136. The court found that through mechanical devices and ordinary skills the optician could take a broken lens or a fragment thereof, measure its power, and reduce it to prescriptive terms. The court held that 'Although on this precise issue of duplication, the legislature in the instant regulation was dealing with a matter of public interest, the particular means chosen are neither reasonably necessary nor reasonably related to the end sought to be achieved.' Id., at 137. It was, accordingly, the opinion of the court that this provision of the law violated the Due Process Clause by arbitrarily interfering with the optician's right to do business.

We think the due process question is answered in principle by Roschen v. Ward, 279 U.S. 337, 49 S.Ct. 336, 73 L.Ed. 722, which upheld a

Page 487

New York statute making it unlawful to sell eyeglasses at retail in any store, unless a duly licensed physician or optometrist were in charge and in personal attendance. The Court said, '* * * wherever the requirements of the act stop, there can be no doubt that the presence and superintendence of the specialist tend to diminish an evil.' Id., 279 U.S. at page 339, 49 S.Ct. at page 336.

The Oklahoma law may exact a needless, wasteful requirement in many cases. But it is for the legislature, not the courts, to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the new requirement. It appears that in many cases the optician can easily supply the new frames or new lenses without reference to the old written prescription. It also appears that many written prescriptions contain no directive data in regard to fitting spectacles to the face. But in some cases the directions contained in the prescription are essential, if the glasses are to be fitted so as to correct the particular defects of vision or alleviate the eye condition. The legislature might have concluded that the frequency of occasions when a prescription is necessary was sufficient to justify this regulation of the fitting of eyeglasses. Likewise, when it is necessary to duplicate a lens, a written prescription may or may not be necessary. But the legislature might have concluded that one was needed often enough to require one in every case. Or the legislature may have concluded that eye examinations were so critical, not only for correction of vision but also for detection of latent ailments or diseases, that every change in frames and every duplication of a lens should be accompanied by a prescription from a medical expert. To be sure, the present law does not require a new examination of the eyes every time the frames are changed or the lenses duplicated. For if the old prescription is on file with the optician, he can go ahead and make the new fitting or duplicate the lenses. But the law need not be in every respect logically consistent with its aims

Page 488

to be constitutional. It is enough that there is an evil at hand for correction, and that it might be thought that the particular legislative measure was a rational way to correct it.

The day is gone when this Court uses the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down state laws, regulatory of business and industrial conditions, because they may be unwise, improvident, or out of harmony with a particular school of thought. See Nebbia v. People of State of New York, 291 U.S. 502, 54 S.Ct. 505, 89 A.L.R. 1469; West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379, 57 S.Ct. 578, 81 L.Ed. 703; Olsen v. State...

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2223 practice notes
  • Barrick Gold Exploration, Inc. v. Hudson, No. C2-93-0104.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 16, 1993
    ...and irrational way. See, e.g., Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 83 S.Ct. 1028, 10 L.Ed.2d 93 (1963); Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 487-488, 75 S.Ct. 461, 464, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955). 428 U.S., at 15, 96 S.Ct. at Congress has wide latitude in making choices regarding economic le......
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...that the particular legislative measure was a rational way to correct’ ” an evil. Id. (quoting Williamson v. Lee Optical of Okla., Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487–88, 75 S.Ct. 461, 464, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955)). By contrast, Justice Kennedy asserted, “under the Necessary and Proper Clause, application ......
  • Mancuso v. Taft, No. 72-1180.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • March 20, 1973
    ...86 L.Ed. 1655 (1942); Railway Express Agency v. New York, 336 U.S. 106, 69 S.Ct. 463, 93 L.Ed. 533 (1949); Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 75 S.Ct. 461, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955); Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (1956); Morey v. Doud, 354 U.S. 457, 77 S.......
  • Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Sers., Nos. 10–2204
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 31, 2012
    ...71 L.Ed. 1000 (1927), rarely succeed. Courts accept as adequate any plausible factual basis, Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487–88, 75 S.Ct. 461, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955), without regard to Congress' actual motives. Beach Commc'ns, 508 U.S. at 314, 113 S.Ct. 2096. Mea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2217 cases
  • Barrick Gold Exploration, Inc. v. Hudson, No. C2-93-0104.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 16, 1993
    ...and irrational way. See, e.g., Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 83 S.Ct. 1028, 10 L.Ed.2d 93 (1963); Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 487-488, 75 S.Ct. 461, 464, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955). 428 U.S., at 15, 96 S.Ct. at Congress has wide latitude in making choices regarding economic le......
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...that the particular legislative measure was a rational way to correct’ ” an evil. Id. (quoting Williamson v. Lee Optical of Okla., Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487–88, 75 S.Ct. 461, 464, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955)). By contrast, Justice Kennedy asserted, “under the Necessary and Proper Clause, application ......
  • Mancuso v. Taft, No. 72-1180.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • March 20, 1973
    ...86 L.Ed. 1655 (1942); Railway Express Agency v. New York, 336 U.S. 106, 69 S.Ct. 463, 93 L.Ed. 533 (1949); Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 75 S.Ct. 461, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955); Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (1956); Morey v. Doud, 354 U.S. 457, 77 S.......
  • Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Sers., Nos. 10–2204
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 31, 2012
    ...71 L.Ed. 1000 (1927), rarely succeed. Courts accept as adequate any plausible factual basis, Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487–88, 75 S.Ct. 461, 99 L.Ed. 563 (1955), without regard to Congress' actual motives. Beach Commc'ns, 508 U.S. at 314, 113 S.Ct. 2096. Mea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 books & journal articles
  • Equal Protection, Strict Scrutiny, and Actions to Promote Environmental Justice
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 39-3, March 2009
    • March 1, 2009
    ...12 and few programs survive strict scrutiny. 13 8. United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 467 (1996). 9. Williams v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483 (1955). 10. he rationale for this is that racial “classiications are simply too pernicious to permit any but the most exact connection” betwe......
  • The Regulatory Takings Battleground: Environmental Regulation of Land Versus Private-Property Rights
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...case, Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery Co., and two substantive due process cases, Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487-488 (1955), and Day-Brite Lighting, Inc. v. Missouri, 342 U.S. 421, 423 (1952), in support of the standards he would adopt. But there is no reas......
  • Article III Separation of Powers, Standing, and the Rejection of a 'Public Rights' Model of Environmental Citizen Suits
    • United States
    • The Clean Water Act and the Constitution. Legal Structure and the Public's Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment Part II
    • April 20, 2009
    ...at 560-61, 572). 113. Id . at 1455-56. 114. Id . at 1456. 115. Id . at 1457. 116. Id . (citing Williamson v. Lee Optical of Okla., Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 489 (1955); Securities & Exchange Comm’n v. Chenery Corp., 332 U.S. 194, 202 (1947)). 117. Id . at 1457-58. ch08.indd 210 4/30/09 10:12:06 A......
  • Rights, Structure, and Remediation: The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 335 (1985). (168.) Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 730 (1963). (169.) Williamson v. Lee Optical, Inc., 348 U.S. 483, 487-88 (170.) United States v. Carlton, 512 U.S. 26, 34 (1994) (quoting Ferguson, 372 U.S. at 730). (171.) United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. ......
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