Growth and Development of the Police Power of the State

The police power of the state is one of the most difficult phases of our law to understand, and it is even more difficult to define it and to place it within any bounds. In speaking of this power the court has recently said: “It extends not only to regulations which promote the public health, morals, and safety, but to those which promote the public convenience or the general prosperity. * * * It is the most essential of powers, at times the most insistent, and always one of the least limitable of the powers of government.”‘ The term is nowhere found in our Constitution, and it first appears in our jurisprudence slightly less than one hundred years ago. It found no place in BouviEa’s LAW DIcTIoNARY until 1883, and the UNITED STATiS DIGEST did not contain it until 1879. Yet the idea is an old one and played no unimportant part in our Constitutional Convention.