Tags: Constitutional Law
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The case of "Williamson, Attorney General of Oklahoma, et al. v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc. et al." involved a challenge to an Oklahoma law that prohibited opticians from fitting or duplicating lenses without a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The District Court found that this requirement violated the Due Process Clause by arbitrarily interfering with the optician's right to do business and was not reasonably related to the health and welfare of the people. The court held that the legislature was dealing with a matter of public interest, but the means chosen were not reasonably necessary to achieve the end sought. The due process question was answered by Roschen v. Ward, which upheld a New York statute requiring a licensed physician or optometrist to be present in any store selling eyeglasses at retail. The Court found that the presence and superintendence of a specialist helped to diminish an evil, and therefore the requirement was reasonable and did not violate due process. It should be noted that the lower court found certain provisions of the law unconstitutional.
The Oklahoma law requiring a written prescription for eyeglass frames and lenses is constitutional, as it is up to the legislature to determine the balance of advantages and disadvantages. The Due Process Clause cannot be used to strike down state laws regulating business and industrial conditions. The District Court erred in finding that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause, as legislative classification is complex and may address different aspects of a problem at different times. As long as there is no invidious discrimination, the Equal Protection Clause is not violated.
The regulation prohibiting the solicitation of the sale of eyeglass frames is unconstitutional, as it is not related to public health. However, the legislature may regulate both frames and lenses to effectively regulate one. The provision prohibiting retail stores from allowing eye examination or visual care services to occupy space in their stores is unconstitutional. The regulation prohibiting optometrists from occupying space in retail stores is constitutional, as it aims to free the profession from commercialism. The portion prohibiting the use of advertising media to solicit the sale of eyeglasses, lenses, and prisms is constitutional. Other contentions raised by the appellants are without merit.
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