Appeal, No. 2, May T., 1958, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Commonwealth Docket of 1956, No. 264, Equity Docket, No. 2202, in case of George A. Ullom, trading as Price Optical Company v. Charles H. Boehm et al. Decree affirmed.
Bertram Bennett, with him Jenkins, Bennett and Jenkins, for appellant.
Harry L Rossi, Deputy Attorney General, with him Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, and Thomas D. McBride, Attorney General, for appellees.
George G. Chandler, with him Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, for amicus curiae.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Arnold and Jones, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
One of the most precious jewels in the treasure chest of democracy is the right of every citizen to sell the fruit of his labors at such price as, according to his own calculations, will profit him most. It would thus appear at first glance that any statute which curtails that right becomes an infringement on constitutional
liberties. Specifically, we have before us in this case the consideration of a law enacted by the Legislature which prohibits merchants of eyeglasses from advertising the selling price of their wares. This would seem, it is repeated, to be an abridgement on the prerogative of a businessman to market his merchandise in accordance with his judgment as to what constitutes good business for himself. But the statute in question must be studied not only through the eyes of the merchants but through the scrutinizing vision of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Proud as we are of our individual liberties, we willingly and gladly surrender the unhampered enjoyment of them in many instances in order that society as a whole may be served and protected. Thus, automobile manufacturers are required to install certain safety features on their mechanical creations, food dispensers must submit their goods to government tests for wholesomeness and salubrity, farmers may not sell milk and butter without meeting established standards of purity. The statute under consideration here is the Act of May 18, 1956, which is an amendment to section 9 of the Act of March 30, 1917, P.L. 21, 63 P.S. § 237. Section 2 of the amendment reads: "No person, firm or corporation engaged in or connected with the retail sale or dispensing of frames, mountings, lenses, spectacles or eyeglasses used for ophthalmic purposes shall include in any advertising whether by newspaper, magazine, radio, television, signs, displays, or by any other means, the price or prices of the products used for ophthalmic purposes ..."
Standing alone, this enactment of the Legislature might appear meddlesome and even arbitrary. Why shouldn't a dealer in eyeglasses, as a dealer in beef or bicycles, be permitted to sell them at a price less ...