FERGUSON v. SKRUPA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
111
Appellee 
Skrupa
Appellant 
Ferguson
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

A Kansas statute made it a misdemeanor to enter into contracts for "debt adjusting" (a practice in which a debtor agrees to pay a monthly fee to an adjustor who then makes payments to the debtor's creditor). Skrupa was in business as a "Credit Advisor" and engaged in this practice. A lower court held that the Kansas statute was an "unreasonable regulation of a lawful business" and struck it down.

Question 

Did the Kansas regulation of debt adjusting violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Ferguson, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. The Court reversed the decision of the lower court and affirmed Kansas's right to regulate debt adjusting. The unanimous decision held that the question of whether the law was wise or reasonable was a legislative and not a judicial one. Justice Black argued that the lower court's ruling relied on old law; the Court had moved out of the business of using the "vague contours" of the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down laws which it had deemed economically unwise. Those were issues for state and national legislatures to address and not the courts. As long as state regulations do not offend a "specific federal constitutional prohibition" or a "valid federal law," they are legitimate.

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FERGUSON v. SKRUPA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1962/1962_111>.
FERGUSON v. SKRUPA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1962/1962_111 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"FERGUSON v. SKRUPA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1962/1962_111.