Amdt14.S1.8.3.3 Administrative Discretion

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

A municipal ordinance that vests in supervisory authorities a naked and arbitrary power to grant or withhold consent to the operation of laundries in wooden buildings, without consideration of the circumstances of individual cases, constitutes a denial of equal protection of the law when consent is withheld from certain persons solely on the basis of nationality. 1 But a city council may reserve to itself the power to make exceptions from a ban on the operation of a dairy within the city, 2 or from building line restrictions. 3 Written permission of the mayor or president of the city council may be required before any person shall move a building on a street. 4 The mayor may be empowered to determine whether an applicant has a good character and reputation and is a suitable person to receive a license for the sale of cigarettes. 5 In a later case, 6 the Court held that the unfettered discretion of river pilots to select their apprentices, which was almost invariably exercised in favor of their relatives and friends, was not a denial of equal protection to persons not selected despite the fact that such apprenticeship was requisite for appointment as a pilot.


  1.  Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886).
  2.  Fischer v. St. Louis, 194 U.S. 361 (1904).
  3.  Gorieb v. Fox, 274 U.S. 603 (1927).
  4.  Wilson v. Eureka City, 173 U.S. 32 (1899).
  5.  Gundling v. Chicago, 177 U.S. 183 (1900).
  6.  Kotch v. Board of River Port Pilot Comm’rs, 330 U.S. 552 (1947).