Dent v. West Virginia

In Dent v. West Virginia, 129 U.S. 114 (1889), the Court upheld a West Virginia statute requiring that physicians obtain a license in order to practice. Appellant argued, inter alia, that the statute was a bill of attainder because the granting of a license was conditioned upon graduating from medical school, practicing for 10 years, or passing a special examination. The Court rejected the argument on the ground that the statute set forth general qualifications applicable to all persons who wanted to practice medicine, id., at 124, and did not single out a specific person or group for deprivation. The Court upheld a licensing statute that disqualified a physician who had been in practice for six years. The Court held the law valid because it "was intended to secure such skill and learning in the profession of medicine that the community might trust with confidence those receiving a license under authority of the State." 129 U.S. at 128, 9 S.Ct. at 235.