Legal Memorandum: Violation of Substantive Due Process in CA

Issue: Does section 700.160 of the California Code of Civil Procedure violate substantive due process?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Substantive due process; Arbitrary legislation; California Code of Civil Procedure
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 8 Cal. 4th 216; 291 U.S. 502; 32 Cal. Rptr. 2d 807
Cited Statutes: Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 700.010(a), §§ 700.140, .160
Date: 04/01/2001

Substantive due process is a limitation on arbitrary power and a guaranty against arbitrary legislation.  Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502, 537 (1934).  It requires that a law must not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious, and that it has a real and substantial relation to the object sought to be obtained.  Id.  Importantly, the criterion of substantive due process in a state statute is not the possibility of conceivable injury.  American Land Co. v. Zeiss, 219 U.S. 47, 67 (1911).  Rather, the issue relates to the just and reasonable character of the requirement having reference to the subject with which the statute deals.  Id.

The California courts have likewise characterized substantive due process as preventing the government from enacting legislation that is arbitrary or discriminatory or lacks a reasonable relationship to a proper legislative purpose. Kavanau v. Santa Monica Rent Control Bd., 16 Cal. 4th 761, 766, 941 P.2d at 857, 66 Cal. Rptr. 2d 672, 678 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S.1077 (1998).  In determining whether a challenged governmental act should be upheld, the Supreme Court of California has stated that the act must be upheld unless no reasonably conceivable set of facts could establish a rational relationship between the regulation and the government’s legitimate ends.  20th Century Ins. Co. v. Garamendi, 8 Cal. 4th 216, 292, 878 P.2d 566, 614, 32 Cal. Rptr. 2d 807, 855 (1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1153 (1995).


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