Hammer V. Dagenhart Case Overview

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The background of this case Hammer v. Dagenhart is that children would work long overtime hours in factories, mills, and industrial places of this kind. Many people had concerns about the kids and the work they had to do. Some families depended on their kids making money for their household. Some states passed laws forbidding child labor.

The case was brought on by Roland H. Dagenhart to the Supreme Court. Dagenhart worked at a textile mill with his two sons. He thought the law was unfair and unconstitutional, so he decided to sue. Later, leading his case to the Supreme Court, Congress passed the Keating-Owen Act (1916). This law forbids the shipments to across state lines that are of goods made in factories that employed underage children and the kids who work overtime with ridiculous hours.

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The minority opinion was: Yes, granted that Congress was to regulate commerce does allow countries to introduce legislation targeting manufacturing practices. “The act does not meddle with anything belonging to the States. They may regulate their internal affairs and their domestic commerce as they like. But when they seek to send their products across the state line, they are no longer within their rights. If there were no Constitution and no Congress, their power to cross the line would depend upon their neighbors. Under the Constitution, such commerce belongs not to the States, but to Congress to regulate. It may carry out its views of public policy whatever indirect effect they may have on the activities of the States. Instead of being encountered by a prohibitive tariff at her boundaries, the State encounters the public policy of the United States, which it is for Congress to express.” — Oliver W. Holmes

The majority opinion was: No, granted Congress to regulate commerce among nations can’t legislate targets manufacturing practices. “In our view, the necessary effect of this act is, by means of a prohibition against the movement in interstate commerce of ordinary commercial commodities to regulate the hours of labor of children in factories and mines within the states, a pure state authority. Thus, the act in the two-fold sense is repugnant to the Constitution. It not only transcends the authority delegated by Congress but also exerts a power as to a purely local matter to which the federal authority does not extend… For these reasons we hold that this law exceeds the constitutional authority of Congress”.

In my opinion, I stand with the minority ruling. The reason why I do is that the children should not work that hard and for a long period of time even if it is most families’ source of income.

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