The California legislature enacted tight constraints on the use of psychosurgery and electroconvulsive therapy in 1974. In April 1976 a State Court of Appeals declared part of the law to be unconstitutional. In doing so, the court enunciated several principles for regulating medical procedures. It affirmed the inherent police powers which permit the state to safeguard the public, especially incompetent, involuntary or confined persons, with respect to intrusive and hazardous medical procedures and to procedures which affect thought or feeling. Although limited to legislation concerning two psychiatric procedures, the court's decision, and subsequently enacted legislation governing these procedures, has implications for other medical procedures and for other parts of the nation.