Lochner era


Lochner era

The "Lochner" era is a period in from roughly 1890 to 1937 in which the United States Supreme Court tended to strike down economic regulations mandating certain working conditions or wages, or limiting working hours. In the eponymous 1905 case of "Lochner v. New York", the Court struck down a New York State law limiting the number of hours bakers could work on the grounds that it violated bakers' "right to contract," a right implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This doctrine, known as Economic Substantive Due Process, defined the Court during the Lochner era.

Other representative cases include "Hammer v. Dagenhart" (1918), where the court struck down legislation outlawing child labor in factories where children under 14 worked; as well as "Adkins v. Children's Hospital" (1923), where the court struck down federal legislation that mandated a minimum wage level for women in the District of Columbia. See also "Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co." where the court invalidated a tax on interstate commerce by employers hiring children.

The era is considered to have ended with the overturning of "Adkins v. Children's Hospital" in the 1937 case of "West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish".

Since that period the Lochner era has been considered by both liberals and conservatives alike to be a regrettable period in U.S. jurisprudence, each for different reasons. Liberals considered it a shameful time for workers' rights while conservatives cited it as an example of inappropriate judicial activism.Fact|date=February 2007

However, many libertarians viewed "Lochner" and its progeny as laudable cases for their recognition of individual liberty.Fact|date=February 2007 They see it not as judicial activism but as the proper exercise of judicial review, striking down laws that are unconstitutional under the fifth and/or fourteenth amendments. Supporters of "Lochner" maintained that the shift in economic circumstances that brought about its demise do not change the meaning of the Constitution.cite court
litigants=West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (Dissent)
vol=300
reporter=U.S.
opinion=379
pinpoint=No. 293
court=U.S. Supreme Court
date=1937-03-29
url=http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0300_0379_ZD.html
]

One prominent supporter of "Lochner" is Janice Rogers Brown, currently a judge in United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. [ [http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=12751#8 Janice Rogers Brown on the Supreme Court’s discredited decision in Lochner v. New York] ] Due to her controversial views, her nomination by President George W. Bush had almost confronted a filibuster, but eventually the Gang of 14 reached a compromise and Brown was confirmed.

It should be also noted that the two early cases that use Substantive Due Process to protect civil liberties, "Pierce v. Society of Sisters" and "Meyer v. Nebraska", were decided during the Lochner era.

Notes

References

*Bernstein, David E. "Lochner Era Revisionism, Revised: Lochner and the Origins of Fundamental Rights Constitutionalism." "Georgetown Law Journal." November 2003.
*Cushman, Barry. "Rethinking the New Deal Court: The Structure of a Constitutional Revolution." Paperback ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195120434
*Gillman, Howard. "The Constitution Besieged: The Rise and Demise of Lochner Era Police Powers Jurisprudence." New ed. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993. ISBN 0822316420
*Sunstein, Cass R. "Lochner's Legacy." "Columbia Law Review." 87:873 (June 1987).


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