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State v. Rogers

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County

April 26, 1962

STATE of Delaware
v.
Carl ROGERS, Defendant.

Thomas Herlihy, III, Deputy Atty. Gen., for the State.

H. Alfred Tarrant, Jr., Wilmington (Edward W. Cooch, Jr., Wilmington, on the brief), for defendant.

LYNCH, Judge.

Defendant, Carl Rogers, stands indicted by the Grand Jury of New Castle County on a charge of operating a barber shop on Sunday in violation of 24 Del.C. § 415. This section reads as follows:

' § 415 Sunday closing; penalty; jurisdiction and cognizance of offenses.

'Whoever carries on or engages in the business of shaving, haircutting or other work of a barber, or whoever opens or allows to be open his barber shop, or place where such business is done, for the purpose of carrying on his said business on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $20.00 nor more than [54 Del. 496] $75.00 and on failure to pay such fine and costs shall be imprisoned not exceeding ten days.'

This section is now part of a new chapter (4) added to Title 24 of the Delaware Code by action of the General Assembly in enacting Vol. 53, Del.Laws, Ch. 152, approved by the Governor on July 26, 1961.

Section 401 of the cited title, entitled 'Definitions', excludes beauticians from its operation with the following sentence:

"Practicing the occupation of barber' includes the shaving or trimming of the beard and the cutting of the hair of any person for hire or reward, provided that this chapter shall not apply to beauticians [1] cutting or trimming the hair of females.' (Emphasis supplied.)

Page 736

There is no general Sunday closing or 'blue' law in Delaware. The only laws in Delaware pertaining to an observance of Sundays are contained in Title 28 of the Delaware Code. Section 906 relates to horse racing, public auctions, public dances and public entertainment within corporate limits of cities and towns. Section 151 prohibits Sunday boxing and § 1139 prohibits Sunday bingo.

At the time defendant was arraigned his attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, contending that the statute, 24 Del.C., Ch. 4 and particularly § 415, is unconstitutional as violative of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 7 of the Delaware Constitution, Del.C.Ann.

[54 Del. 497] The constitutionality of state laws prohibiting barbers from operating on Sunday has been considered in a number of cases. These cases are collected in a general annotation dealing with barber statutes in 20 A.L.R. 1111, as supplemented in 98 A.L.R. 1088. The decisions show a split of authority; not all of them are precisely analogous to this case and the statutes vary from the Delaware statute.

Defendant emphasizes his arguments by contending that in the absence of a general Sunday closing law, a statute singling out barbers and requiring them to close on Sunday is an arbitrary and discriminatory use of the state police power and hence unconstitutional because it deprives barbers of their right to due process of law. Defendant cites and relies, in great part, on State v. Danberg, 1 Terry 136, 40 Del. 136, 6 A.2d 596 (Court of General Sessions, 1939). In that case the Court of General Sessions considered the constitutionality of a statute prohibiting barbers located in the City of Wilmington from advertising prices, limiting hours of business, requiring the adjusting of curtains or shades on shops in a certain manner, and prohibiting business on Sundays and certain holidays. The State, in this case, contends that the Danberg case is distinguishable. I agree. The Barber Statute considered in Danberg only applied to barbers in the City of Wilmington; it was not applicable throughout the state as is the law now before the Court. It was shown that the provision that prohibited barbers from working on Sundays and certain holidays and not past certain hours was not passed for the health, welfare and safety of barbers, because it provided an exception to such prohibitions if a barber obtained a special permit requiring payment of a hundred dollar fee. The other sections relating to prices and advertising show that the entire statute was not a health and welfare measure. The provisions about adjusting shades or curtains obviously had no relation to the health and welfare of barbers. The statute was clearly, in my opinion, an economic measure and it was not passed for the purpose of protecting the health of barbers.

[54 Del. 498] The State, on the other hand, points out that the statute at hand is certainly related to the health and welfare because it is a cessation of work statute and not a special statute to aid the economics of barbers such as appeared in Danberg. Consequently, the General Assembly, the State argues, when it passed the statute sub judice, had the intent of providing Sunday as a day of rest, i. e., to enforce a cessation from labor on one day in seven, and, therefore, was intended to promote the health and good order of the public and the barbers themselves, 83 C.J.S. Sunday § 3, p. 801, and such a law, says the State, is not in violation of the due process clause and should be sustained.

Under the Delaware Constitution the power of the General Assembly, as the repository of all legislative power, 1897 Const., Art. 2, Section 1, is full, limitless and unrestrained; it may legislate in any manner on any subject it sees fit, unless there is some constitutional limitation, express or implied. State ex rel. Crave ...


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