On This Date in Legal History

On April 17, 1905, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Lochner v. New York. Joseph Lochner was the owner of a bakery in Utica, New York. He was arrested after permitting one of his bakers to work more than 60 hours in a week, in violation of a New York labor law. The question before the Court was– did the New York law violate the 14th Amendment by interfering with an employer’s right to contract with his or her employee. The Court held in Lochner’s favor (in a 5-4 decision) finding the law unconstitutional.


Justice Rufus Wheeler Peckham served on the United States Supreme Court from 1896 to 1909

Justice Rufus Peckham, who authored the court’s majority opinion, wrote– “The statute necessarily interferes with the right of contract between the employer and employee, concerning the number of hours in which the latter may labor in the bakery of the employer. The general right to make a contract in relation to his business is part of the liberty of the individual protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Under that provision no State can deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” I highly recommend you watch this very informative C-Span program about the Lochner decision, and its aftermath at https://goo.gl/TBgd8a.

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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