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Supreme Court: City’s no-smoking ordinance does not violate state constitution

April 11, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the city of Indianapolis’ no-smoking ordinance in a ruling Monday, saying it does not violate the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution.

In 2012, Indianapolis’ no-smoking ordinance was amended, removing an exemption for bars and taverns, but exempting businesses licensed as satellite gambling facilities. Indianapolis bar Whistle Stop Inn sued, claiming the ordinance violated the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause because it applied to bars but not to satellite gambling facilities. Hoosier Park stepped in as a defendant and filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court.

The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court, saying it did violate the equal privileges clause and severed the satellite facility exemption, giving the rest of the ordinance its intended effect.

The Supreme Court said the ordinance meets the two-prong test for determining a statute’s validity set in Collins v. Day, 644 N.E.2d 72, 80 (Ind. 1994.)

The first Collins prong is “the disparate treatment accorded by the legislation must be reasonably related to inherent characteristics which distinguish the unequally treated classes.” The exemption says the satellite facility must include a description of the heating and air conditioning units, smoke removal equipment and other devices, and Whistle Stop said this was not an inherent difference. However, the Supreme Court said it was, because without providing this description, the facility could not be licensed as a satellite gambling facility.

The Supreme Court also said that an ordinance does not have to identify all distinguishing characteristics of each class and the reason for the distinctions when passing class-creating ordinances.

The second prong of the Collins test is preferential treatment must be uniformly applicable and equally available to all persons similarly situated. The restaurants and bars are not similarly situated with gambling facilities, the Supreme Court said. They are separate businesses that provide separate services and have separate licensing requirements.

The ordinance also does not violate solely economic rationales, as Whistle Stop claimed, though this shouldn’t matter, Justice Brent Dickson wrote. Ordinances like this focus on the treatment the ordinance accords, not the reasons why. Even so, the reason for the ordinance is to protect the health of the public, not for anything economic.

The case is Whistle Stop Inn and Louise Liford D/B/A Thirsty Turtle v. City of Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis City-County Council and Hoosier Park LLC, 49S02-1604-MI-175.
 

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