Is a Law Valid If the Title of a Chapter Law Contains More Than One Subject but the Body Does Not ?
In Colonial Investment Co. v. Nolan, 100 Fla. 1349, 131 So. 178 (1930), this Court considered whether chapter 14571 of the Laws of Florida of 1929, violated the single subject rule contained in article 3, section 16 of the Florida Constitution of 1885, the predecessor of the same substantive rule now contained in article III, section 6 of the Florida Constitution.
The party challenging the chapter law in that case primarily alleged that the title of the law was invalid because it contained more than one subject. See Nolan, 100 Fla. at 1350-51, 131 So. at 178-79.
This Court declined to determine the case on that isolated basis, however, because it found that both the title and body of the chapter law contained two distinct and improperly connected subjects. See id. at 1353, 131 So. at 180.
This Court recognized that if the title of a chapter law contains more than one subject but the body does not, then such a law may remain valid. See id.
However, as to chapter laws in which both the title and body contain more than one subject, this Court quoted with approval a legal text which stated: "If an act embraces two or more subjects, and two or more of the same are expressed in the title, the whole act is void." Id. at 1354, 131 So. at 180 (quoting 1 John Lewis, Statutes and Statutory Construction 144 (2d ed. 1904)).
After finding that both the title and body of chapter 14571 contained more than one subject, this Court invalidated the law in its entirety. See Nolan, 100 Fla. at 1358, 131 So. at 181.
This Court has reached a similar conclusion in several other decisions. See Sawyer v. State, 100 Fla. 1603, 1611, 132 So. 188, 192 (1931) (relying on Nolan to invalidate entire chapter law because the law's title and body contained more than one subject); Ex parte Winn, 100 Fla. 1050, 1053, 130 So. 621, 621 (1930) (stating that "both the act and the title dealt with more than one subject, and that the several subjects dealt with were not so properly connected as to conform with [the single subject rule], and for this reason the entire act must fall").