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Ferguson v. Skrupa

Citation. 372 U.S. 726, 83 S.Ct. 1028, 10 L.Ed.2d 93 (1963).

Brief Fact Summary.

A debt adjustor business successfully challenged a law prohibiting its business on Due Process grounds and the state of Kansas filed an appeal.

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Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Courts do not substitute their social and economic beliefs for the judgement of legislative bodies, who are elected to pass laws.

Facts.

Kansas passed a statute prohibiting individuals from engaging in the business of debt adjusting, except as incident to the lawful practice of law in the state. The statute defined debt adjusting as “making of a contract, express, or implied with a particular debtor whereby the debtor agrees to pay a certain amount of money periodically to the person engaged in the debt adjusting business…”

Issue.

Whether the Kansas statute prohibiting debt adjusting businesses violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Held.

No. The Kansas statute prohibiting debt adjusting businesses does not violate the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Discussion.

There was a time when the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment was used by the Court to strike down state laws thought to be unreasonable. This intrusion by the courts into the realm of legislative value judgements, however, has since been strongly objected.

While there are arguments showing the  social utility of debt adjusting businesses, the Kansas legislature is free to decide for itself legislation needed to deal with the business. We refuse to sit as a super-legislature. It may be wise or unwise, but relief does not lie with the Court. Judgement reversed.


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