247 U.S. 251 (1918), 704, Hammer v. Dagenhart

Docket Nº:No. 704
Citation:247 U.S. 251, 38 S.Ct. 529, 62 L.Ed. 1101
Party Name:Hammer v. Dagenhart
Case Date:June 03, 1918
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 251

247 U.S. 251 (1918)

38 S.Ct. 529, 62 L.Ed. 1101

Hammer

v.

Dagenhart

No. 704

United States Supreme Court

June 3, 1918

Argued April 15, 16, 1918

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA

Syllabus

The Act of September 1, 1916, c. 432, 39 Stat. 675, prohibits transportation in interstate commerce of goods made at a factory in which, within thirty days prior to their removal therefrom, children under the age of 14 years have been employed or permitted to work, or children between the ages of 14 and 16 years have been employed or permitted to work more than eight hours in any day, or more than six days in any week, or after the hour of 7 P.M. or before the hour of 6 A.M. Held, unconstitutional as exceeding the commerce power of Congress and invading the powers reserved to the States.

The power to regulate interstate commerce is the power to prescribe the rule by which the commerce is to be governed; in other words, to control the means by which it is carried on.

The court has never sustained a right to exclude save in cases where the character of the particular things excluded was such as to bring them peculiarly within the governmental authority of the State or Nation and render their exclusion, in effect, but a regulation of interstate transportation, necessary to prevent the accomplishment through that means of the evils inherent in them.

The manufacture of goods is not commerce, nor do the facts that they are intended for, and are afterwards shipped in, interstate commerce make their production a part of that commerce subject to the control of Congress.

The power to regulate interstate commerce was not intended as a means of enabling Congress to equalize the economic conditions in the States for the prevention of unfair competition among them by forbidding the interstate transportation of goods made under conditions which Congress deems productive of unfairness.

It was not intended as an authority to Congress to control the States in the exercise of their police power over local trade and manufacture, always existing and expressly reserved to them by the Tenth Amendment.

Affirmed.

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The case is stated in the opinion.

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DAY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

A bill was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina by a father in his own behalf and as next friend of his two minor sons, one under the age of fourteen years and the other between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years, employees in a cotton mill at Charlotte, North Carolina, to enjoin the enforcement of the act of Congress intended to prevent interstate commerce in the products of child labor. Act of Sept. 1, 1916, c. 432, 39 Stat. 675.

The District Court held the act unconstitutional and entered a decree enjoining its enforcement. This appeal brings the case here. The first section of the act is in the margin. *

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Other sections of the act contain provisions for its enforcement and prescribe penalties for its violation.

The attack upon the act rests upon three propositions: first: it is not a regulation of interstate and foreign commerce; second: it contravenes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution; third: it conflicts with the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

The controlling question for decision is: is it within the authority of Congress in regulating commerce among the States to prohibit the transportation in interstate commerce of manufactured goods, the product of a factory in which, within thirty days prior to their removal therefrom, children under the age of fourteen have been employed or permitted to work, or children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years have been employed or permitted to work more than eight hours in any day, or more than six days in any week, or after the hour of seven o'clock P.M. or before the hour of 6 o'clock A.M.?

The power essential to the passage of this act, the Government contends, is found in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the States.

In Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, Chief Justice Marshall, speaking for this court and defining the extent and nature of the commerce power, said, "It is the power to regulate; that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed." In other words, the power is one to control the means by which commerce is carried on, which is

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directly the contrary of the assumed right to forbid commerce from moving, and thus destroy it as to particular commodities. But it is insisted that adjudged cases in this court establish the doctrine that the power to regulate given to Congress incidentally includes the authority to prohibit the movement of ordinary commodities, and therefore that the subject is not open for discussion. The cases demonstrate the contrary. They rest upon the character of the particular subjects dealt with, and the fact that the scope of governmental authority, state or national, possessed over them is such that the authority to prohibit is as to them but the exertion of the power to regulate.

The first of these cases is Champion v. Ames, 188 U.S. 321, the so-called Lottery Case, in which it was held that Congress might pass a law having the effect to keep the channels of commerce free from use in the transportation of tickets used in the promotion of lottery schemes. In Hipolite Egg Co. v. United States, 220 U.S. 45, this court sustained the power of Congress to [38 S.Ct. 531] pass the Pure Food and Drug Act, which prohibited the introduction into the States by means of interstate commerce of impure foods and drugs. In Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S. 308, this court sustained the constitutionality of the so-called "White Slave Traffic Act," whereby the transportation of a woman in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution was forbidden. In that case, we said, having reference to the authority of Congress, under the regulatory power, to protect the channels of interstate commerce:

If the facility of interstate transportation can be taken away from the demoralization of lotteries, the debasement of obscene literature, the contagion of diseased cattle or persons, the impurity of food and drugs, the like facility can be taken away from the systematic enticement to and the enslavement in prostitution and debauchery of women, and, more insistently, of girls.

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In Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470, we held that Congress might prohibit the transportation of women in interstate commerce for the purposes of debauchery and kindred purposes. In Clark Distilling Co. v. Western Maryland Ry. Co., 242 U.S. 311, the power of Congress over the transportation of intoxicating liquors was sustained. In the course of the opinion, it was said:

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