Shapira v. Union National Bank,
315 N.E.2d 825 (Ohio 1974).
Facts: The will of the decedent, David Shapira, M.D., bequeathed a portion of the residue of his estate to his son, Daniel Jacob Shapira (P), provided that he is married to a Jewish girl, both of whose parents are Jewish, at the time of the testator's death. If after seven years from the testator's death, P is unmarried or married to a non-Jewish girl, then his share should go to the State of Israel. P, who is 21 years old and unmarried, brings a petition in the Court of Common Pleas for a declaratory judgment, arguing that the condition upon his inheritance is unconstitutional, contrary to public policy, and unenforceable because of its unreasonableness.
(i) Is a partial restraint on marriage in a will a violation of the right to marry pro¬tected by the Fourteenth Amendment?
(ii) Is a partial restraint on marriage that imposes only reasonable restrictions valid and not contrary to public policy?
Held, (i) No. (ii) Yes. Petition denied.
P is correct that the right to marry is constitutionally protected from restrictive state legislative action. Here, however, the court is not asked to enforce any restriction on P's constitutional right to marry; rather, the court is asked to enforce the testator's restriction on his son's inheritance. The right to receive property is a creature of the law and is not a constitutionally guaranteed right. Hence, upholding the partial restraint imposed by the testator will not violate the Constitution.
Nor does a partial restraint on marriage violate public policy. If the condition were that the beneficiary not marry anyone, the restraint would be general or total and would be held contrary to public policy. A partial restraint on marriage that imposes only reasonable restrictions is valid, and not contrary to public policy. The weight of authority in the United States is that gifts conditioned on the beneficiary's marrying within a particular religious class or faith are reasonable. It is the conclusion of this court that the conditions contained in the testator's will are reasonable restrictions on marriage and are valid.