The question presented by this case is whether the provision of a New Orleans ordinance, as amended in 1972, that excepts from the ordinance's prohibition against vendors' selling of foodstuffs from pushcarts in the Vieux Carre, or French Quarter, "vendors who have continuously operated the same business within the Vieux Carre . . . for eight or more years prior to January 1, 1972 . . ." denied appellee vendor equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Appellee operates a vending business from pushcarts throughout New Orleans but had carried on that business in the Vieux Carre for only two years when the ordinance was amended in 1972 and barred her from
The Vieux Carre of the city of New Orleans is the heart of that city's considerable tourist industry and an integral component of the city's economy.
Chapter 46 of the Code of the City of New Orleans sets up a comprehensive scheme of permits for the conduct of various businesses in the city. In 1972, the Code was amended to restrict the validity of many of these permits
The question of this Court's jurisdiction to hear the appeal need detain us only briefly. Title 28 U. S. C. § 1254 (2) grants jurisdiction to review decisions of the courts of appeals
A municipal ordinance is a "State statute" for purposes of this provision. See Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 927 n. 2 (1975); United Gas Co. v. Ideal Cement Co., 369 U.S. 134 (1962). See also, e. g., Dusch v. Davis, 387 U.S. 112 (1967); Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co., 357 U.S. 77 (1958); City of Detroit v. Murray Corp., 355 U.S. 489 (1958).
However, it is argued that the Court of Appeals' decision is not "final" under the doctrine enunciated in Slaker v. O'Connor, 278 U.S. 188 (1929) (involving predecessor statute to § 1254 (2)), and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. v. Flemming, 351 U.S. 901 (1956) (per curiam), since the Court of Appeals, although finding the statute unconstitutional as applied, remanded the case to the District Court for a determination as to the severability of the "grandfather provision." There may be some question as to the continuing vitality of the "finality" requirement in the context of § 1254 (2), which unlike such jurisdictional statutes as 28 U. S. C. §§ 1257
The unconstitutionality of the ordinance, in its application to appellee, has been definitely and finally adjudicated by the Court of Appeals, and only a state-law question remains to be decided on remand—whether the statute will be totally invalidated or whether only its "grandfather provision" will be struck down. There is no federal, much less constitutional, question which is yet to be resolved below, and the policy underlying § 1254 (2)—ensuring that state laws are not erroneously invalidated —will in no way be served by further delay in adjudicating the constitutional issue presented. Moreover, since the outcome of the severability question will not moot a difficult constitutional issue in this case, the policy of avoiding needless constitutional decisions would not be furthered by staying our hand. Furthermore, to the extent any "finality" requirement in the context of § 1254 (2) might be premised on the policies of avoiding piecemeal appeals or the rendering of advisory opinions, neither difficulty is likely to eventuate in this case; even if we were to uphold the Court of Appeals' remand for a determination of the severability of the "grandfather provision" under state law, the ruling on remand is not one which would be subject to further review in this Court. On the other hand, a decision by this Court rejecting the constitutional challenge to the statute will obviate the need for further proceedings and bring to a halt the continued disruption of the city's internal economic affairs. Cf. generally, e. g., Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469, 476-478, 480, 485-486 (1975). We accordingly hold that this appeal is properly
The record makes abundantly clear that the amended ordinance, including the "grandfather provision," is solely an economic regulation aimed at enhancing the vital role of the French Quarter's tourist-oriented charm in the economy of New Orleans.
When local economic regulation is challenged solely as violating the Equal Protection Clause, this Court consistently defers to legislative determinations as to the desirability of particular statutory discriminations. See, e. g., Lehnhausen v. Lake Shore Auto Parts Co., 410 U.S. 356 (1973). Unless a classification trammels fundamental personal rights or is drawn upon inherently suspect distinctions such as race, religion, or alienage, our decisions presume the constitutionality of the statutory discriminations and require only that the classification challenged be rationally related to a legitimate state interest. States are accorded wide latitude in the regulation of their local economies under their police powers, and rational distinctions may be made with substantially less than mathematical exactitude. Legislatures may implement their program step by step, Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966), in such economic areas, adopting regulations that only partially ameliorate a perceived evil and deferring complete elimination of the evil to future regulations. See, e. g., Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483, 488-489 (1955). In short, the judiciary may not sit as a superlegislature to judge the wisdom or desirability of legislative policy determinations made in areas that neither affect fundamental rights nor proceed along suspect lines, see, e. g., Day-Brite Lighting, Inc. v. Missouri, 342 U.S. 421, 423 (1952); in the local economic sphere, it is only the invidious
The Court of Appeals held in this case, however, that the "grandfather provision" failed even the rationality test. We disagree. The city's classification rationally furthers the purpose which the Court of Appeals recognized the city had identified as its objective in enacting the provision, that is, as a means "to preserve the appearance and custom valued by the Quarter's residents and attractive to tourists." 501 F. 2d, at 709. The legitimacy of that objective is obvious. The City Council plainly could further that objective by making the reasoned judgment that street peddlers and hawkers tend to interfere with the charm and beauty of a historic area and disturb tourists and disrupt their enjoyment of that charm and beauty, and that such vendors in the Vieux Carre, the heart of the city's tourist industry,
It is suggested that the "grandfather provision," allowing the continued operation of some vendors was a totally arbitrary and irrational method of achieving the city's purpose. But rather than proceeding by the immediate and absolute abolition of all pushcart food vendors, the city could rationally choose initially to eliminate vendors of more recent vintage. This gradual approach to the problem is not constitutionally impermissible. The governing constitutional principle was stated in Katzenbach v. Morgan, supra, at 657:
The city could reasonably decide that newer businesses were less likely to have built up substantial reliance interests in continued operation in the Vieux Carre and that the two vendors who qualified under the "grandfather clause"—both of whom had operated in the area for over 20 years rather than only eight—had themselves become part of the distinctive character and charm that distinguishes the Vieux Carre. We cannot say that these judgments so lack rationality that they constitute a constitutionally impermissible denial of equal protection.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL concurs in the judgment.
MR. JUSTICE STEVENS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
"Vendors who have continuously operated the same business within the Vieux Carre under the authority of this Chapter for eight or more years prior to January 1, 1972 may obtain a valid permit to operate such business within the Vieux Carre."
"Nor is the statute's exception of lawyers a denial of equal protection of the laws to nonlawyers. Statutes create many classifications which do not deny equal protection; it is only `invidious discrimination' which offends the Constitution. . . . If the State of Kansas wants to limit debt adjusting to lawyers, the Equal Protection Clause does not forbid it" (footnote omitted).
We emphasize again that these principles, of course, govern only when no constitutional provision other than the Equal Protection Clause itself is apposite. Very different principles govern even economic regulation when constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause are implicated, or when local regulation is challenged under the Supremacy Clause as inconsistent with relevant federal laws or treaties.