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Williamson v. Lee Optical of Oklahoma, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
348 U.S. 483 (1955)


An Oklahoma state law made it unlawful for any person not licensed as an optometrist or ophthalmologist in the state to fit lenses to a face or fashion existing lenses into a frame unless given a prescription by a state-licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. Lee Optical (plaintiff) of Oklahoma brought suit in district court against Williamson (defendant), the official charged with enforcing the Oklahoma state law, on the grounds that it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court upheld the aspects of the law that prevented an unlicensed person to provide eye examinations as constitutional, but held unconstitutional the requirement of a prescription for an optician to simply place old lenses into new frames. The district court reasoned that an optician’s performance of this task did not pose a significant health and safety risk to the public, and thus the Oklahoma’s regulation of this activity was not reasonably and rationally related to a health and safety interest. Williamson appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court.

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