Whether the following provisions of the general laws of Connecticut are repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment because wanting in due process of law and denying the equal protection of the laws, is the question for decision:
"SEC. 4868, as amended by chapter 72 of the public acts of Connecticut of 1903. No person who makes it his business to buy commodities and sell the same in small quantities for the purpose of making a profit, shall at a single transaction, and not in the regular course of business sell, assign, or deliver the whole, or a large part of his stock in trade, unless he shall, not less than seven days previous to such sale, assignment, or delivery, cause to be recorded in the town clerk's office in the town in which such vendor conducts his said business, a notice of his intention to make such sale, assignment, or delivery, which notice shall be in writing describing in general terms the property to be so sold, assigned, or delivered, and all conditions of such sale, assignment, or delivery, and the parties thereto.
"SEC. 4869. All such sales, assignments, or deliveries of commodities which shall be made without the formalities required by the provisions of sec. 4868 shall be void as against
The controversy thus arose. Philip E. Hendricks conducted a retail drug store at Taftville, Connecticut. While engaged in such business, in August, 1904, he sold his stock in bulk to Joseph A. Lemieux, his clerk, for a small cash payment and his personal negotiable notes. The sale was made without compliance with the requirements of the statute above quoted. Subsequently Hendricks was adjudicated a bankrupt, and the trustee of his estate commenced this action against Lemieux and replevied the stock of goods. Among other grounds the trustee based his right to recover upon the non-compliance with the statutory requirements in question. In the trial one of the grounds upon which Lemieux relied was the assertion that the statute was void for repugnancy to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, because wanting in due process of law and denying the equal protection of the laws. The trial court adjudged in favor of the trustee and his action in so doing was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut, to which the case was taken on appeal. 79 Connecticut, 434. The cause was then brought to this court.
The Supreme Court of Errors, in upholding the validity of the statute, decided that the subject with which it dealt was within the police power of the State, as the statute alone sought to regulate the manner of disposing of a stock in trade outside of the regular course of business, by methods which, if uncontrolled, were often resorted to for the consummation of fraud to the injury of innocent creditors. In considering whether the requirements of the statute were so onerous and restrictive as to be repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment, the court said:
"It does not seem to us, either from a consideration of the requirements themselves of the act, or of the facts of the case before us, that the restrictions placed by the legislature upon sales of the kind in question are such as will cause such serious inconvenience to those affected by them as will amount to an
That the court below was right in holding that the subject with which the statute dealt was within the lawful scope of the police authority of the State, we think is too clear to require discussion. As pointed out by Vann, J., in a dissenting opinion delivered by him in Wright v. Hart, 182 N.Y. 350, the subject has been, with great unanimity, considered not only to be within the police power, but as requiring an exertion of such power. He said:
"Twenty States, as well as the Federal Government in the District of Columbia, have similar statutes, some with provisions more stringent than our own, and all aimed at the suppression of an evil that is thus shown to be almost universal. California: Civ. Code, § 3440, as amended March 10, 1903 (St. 1903, p. 111, c. 100). Colorado: Sess. Laws 1903, p. 225, c. 110. Connecticut: Pub. Acts 1903, p. 49, c. 72. Delaware: Laws 1903, p. 748, c. 387. District of Columbia: 33 Stat.
To the cases thus cited may be added Williams v. Fourth National Bank, 15 Oklahoma, 477, where a statute was sustained, which made sales in bulk presumptively fraudulent when the requirements of the statute were not observed.
The argument here, however, does not deny all power to pass a statute regulating the subject in question, but principally insists that the conditions exacted by this particular statute are so arbitrary and onerous as to cause the law to be repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. To support this view in many forms of statement it is reiterated that the conditions
Much support in argument was sought to be deduced from the opinion in Wright v. Hart; Miller v. Crawford (70 Ohio St. 207), and Block v. Schwartz (27 Utah. 387). It is true that in those cases statutes dealing with the subject with which the one before us is concerned were decided to be unconstitutional. But we think it is unnecessary to analyze the cases or to intimate any opinion as to the persuasiveness of the reasoning by which the conclusion expressed in them was sustained. This is said because it is apparent from the most casual inspection of the opinions in the cases in question that the statutes there considered contained conditions of a much more onerous and restrictive character than those which are found in the statute before us.
As the subject to which the statute relates was clearly