Joseph Lochner v. People of the State of New York, No. 292

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPeckham
Citation25 S.Ct. 539,198 U.S. 45,3 Ann.Cas. 1133,49 L.Ed. 937
Decision Date17 April 1905
Docket NumberNo. 292
PartiesJOSEPH LOCHNER, Plff. in Err. , v. PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

198 U.S. 45
25 S.Ct. 539
49 L.Ed. 937
JOSEPH LOCHNER, Plff. in Err.,

v.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

No. 292.
Argued February 23, 24, 1905.
Decided April 17, 1905.

This is a writ of error to the county court of Oneida county, in the state of New York (to which court the record had been remitted), to review the judgment of the court of appeals of that state, affirming the judgment of the supreme court, which itself affirmed the judgment of the county court, convicting the defendant of a misdemeanor on an indictment under a statute of that state, known, by its short title, as the labor

Page 46

law. The section of the statute under which the indictment was found is § 110, and is reproduced in the margin (together with the other sections of the labor law upon the subject of bakeries, being §§ 111 to 115, both inclusive).

The indictment averred that the defendant 'wrongfully and unlawfully required and permitted an employee working for him in his biscuit, bread, and cake bakery and confectionery establishment, at the city of Utica, in this county, to work more than sixty hours in one week,' after having been theretofore convicted of a violation of the name act; and therefore, as averred, he committed the crime of misdemeanor, second offense. The plaintiff in error demurred to the indictment on several grounds, one of which was that the facts stated did not

'§ 110, Hours of labor in bakeries and confectionery establishments.—No employee shall be required or permitted to work in a biscuit, bread, or cake bakery or confectionery establishment more than sixty hours in any one week, or more than ten hours in any one day, unless for the purpose of making a shorter work day on the last day of the week; nor more hours in any one week than will make an average of ten hours per day for the number of days during such week in which such employee shall work.

'§ 111. Drainage and plumbing of buildings and rooms occupied by bakeries.—All buildings or rooms occupied as biscuit, bread, pie, or cake bakeries, shall be drained and plumbed in a manner conducive to the proper and healthful sanitary condition thereof, and shall be constructed with air shafts, windows, or ventilating pipes, sufficient to insure ventilation. The factory inspector may direct the proper drainage, plumbing, and ventilation of such rooms or buildings. No cellar or basement, not now used for a bakery, shall hereafter be so occupied or used, unless the proprietor shall comply with the sanitary provisions of this article.

'§ 112. Requirements as to rooms, furniture, utensils, and manufactured products.—Every room used for the manufacture of flour or meal food products shall be at least 8 feet in height and shall have, if deemed necessary by the factory inspector, an impermeable floor constructed of cement, or of tiles laid in cement, or an additional flooring of wood properly saturated with linseed oil. The side walls of such rooms shall be plastered or wainscoted. The factory inspector may require the side walls and ceiling to be whitewashed at least once in three months. He may also require the wood work of such walls to be painted. The furniture and utensils shall be so arranged as to be readily cleansed and not prevent the proper cleaning of any part of the room. The manufactured flour or meal food products shall be kept in dry and airy rooms, so arranged that the floors, shelves, and all other facilities for storing the same can be properly cleaned. No domestic animals, except cats, shall be allowed to remain in a room used as a biscuit, bread, pie, or cake bakery, or any room in such bakery where flour or meal products are stored.

'§ 113. Wash rooms and closets; sleeping places.—Every such bakery shall be provided with a proper wash room and water-closet, or water-closets, apart from the bake room, or rooms where the manufacture of such food product is conducted, and no water-closet, earth closet, privy, or ashpit shall be within, or connected directly with, the bake room of any bakery, hotel, or public restaurant.

Page 47

constitute a crime. The demurrer was overruled, and, the plaintiff in error having refused to plead further, a plea of not guilty was entered by order of the court and the trial commenced, and he was convicted of misdemeanor, second offense, as indicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of $50, and to stand committed until paid, not to exceed fifty days in the Oneida county jail. A certificate of reasonable doubt was granted by the county judge of Oneida county, whereon an appeal was taken to the appellate division of the supreme court, fourth department, where the judgment of conviction was affirmed. 73 App. Div. 120, 76 N. Y. Supp. 396. A further appeal was then taken to the court of appeals, where the judgment of conviction was again affirmed. 177 N. Y. 145, 101 Am. St. Rep. 773, 69 N. E. 373.

Messrs. Frank Harvey Field and Henry Weismann (by special leave) for plaintiff in error.

Page 50

Mr. Julius M. Mayer for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 50-52 intentionally omitted]

Page 52

Mr. Justice Peckham, after making the foregoing statement of the facts, delivered the opinion of the court:

The indictment, it will be seen, charges that the plaintiff in error violated the 110th section of article 8, chapter 415, of the Laws of 1897, known as the labor law of the state of New York, in that he wrongfully and unlawfully required and permitted an employee working for him to work more than sixty hours in one week. There is nothing in any of the opinions delivered in this case, either in the supreme court or the court of appeals of the state, which construes the section, in using the word 'required,' as referring to any physical force being used to obtain the labor of an employee. It is assumed that the word means nothing more than the requirement arising from voluntary contract for such labor in excess of the number of hours specified in the statute. There is no pretense in any of the opinions that the statute was intended to meet a case of involuntary labor in any form. All the opinions assume that there is no real distinction, so far as this question is concerned, between the words 'required' and 'permitted.' The mandate of the statute, that 'no employee shall be required or permitted to work,' is the substantial equivalent of an enactment that 'no employee shall contract or agree to work,' more than ten hours per day; and, as there is no provision for special emergencies, the statute is mandatory in all cases. It is not an act merely fixing the number of hours which shall constitute a legal day's work, but an absolute prohibition upon the employer permitting, under any circumstances, more than ten hours' work to be done in his establishment. The employee may desire to earn the extra money which would arise from his working more than the prescribed

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time, but this statute forbids the employer from permitting the employee to earn it.

The statute necessarily interferes with the right of contract between the employer and employees, 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 14th Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U. S. 578, 41 L. ed. 832, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 427. Under that provision no state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The right to purchase or to sell labor is part of the liberty protected by this amendment, unless there are circumstances which exclude the right. There are, however, certain powers, existing in the sovereignty of each state in the Union, somewhat vaguely termed police powers, the exact description and limitation of which have not been attempted by the courts. Those powers, broadly stated, and without, at present, any attempt at a more specific limitation, relate to the safety, health, morals, and general welfare of the public. Both property and liberty are held on such reasonable conditions as may be imposed by the governing power of the state in the exercise of those powers, and with such conditions the 14th Amendment was not designed to interfere. Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U. S. 623, 31 L. ed. 205, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 273; Re Kemmler, 136 U. S. 436, 34 L. ed. 519, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 930; Crowley v. Christensen, 137 U. S. 86, 34 L. ed. 620, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 13; Re Converse, 137 U. S. 624, 34 L. ed. 796, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 191.

The state, therefore, has power to prevent the individual from making certain kinds of contracts, and in regard to them the Federal Constitution offers no protection. If the contract be one which the state, in the legitimate exercise of its police power, has the right to prohibit, it is not prevented from prohibiting it by the 14th Amendment. Contracts in violation of a statute, either of the Federal or state government, or a contract to let one's property for immoral purposes, or to do any other unlawful act, could obtain no protection from the Federal Constitution, as coming under the liberty of

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person or of free contract. Therefore, when the state, by its legislature, in the assumed exercise of its police powers, has passed an act which seriously limits the right to labor or the right of contract in regard to their means of livelihood between persons who are sui juris (both employer and employee), it becomes of great importance to determine which shall prevail,—the right of the individual to labor for such time as he may choose, or the right of the state to prevent the individual from laboring, or from entering into any contract to labor, beyond a certain time prescribed by the state.

This court has recognized the existence and upheld the exercise of the police powers of the states in many cases which might fairly be considered as border ones, and it has, in the course of its...

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922 practice notes
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...unlike the relationship between health insurance and health care services. 22. The name refers, of course, to Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), where the Supreme Court struck down a New York law setting maximum hours for bakery employees on the ground that......
  • Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 9742
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1998
    ...Clause). Insofar as the plurality avoids reliance upon the Due Process Clause for fear of resurrecting Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), and related doctrines of "substantive due process,'' that fear is misplaced. Cf. id., at 75-76, 25 S.Ct., at 546-547 (H......
  • Riley v. National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, Inc, No. 87-328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 29, 1988
    ...But ever since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379, 57 S.Ct. 578, 81 L.Ed. 703 (1937), finally overruled Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), and Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525, 43 S.Ct. 394, 67 L.Ed. 785 (1923), "paternalism" has been ......
  • Seminole Tribe Florida v. Florida, 9412
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 27, 1996
    ...this practice in the century's early decades that brought this Court to the nadir of competence that we identify with Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905).60 It was the defining characteristic of the Lochner era, and its characteristic vice, that the Court tre......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
890 cases
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...unlike the relationship between health insurance and health care services. 22. The name refers, of course, to Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), where the Supreme Court struck down a New York law setting maximum hours for bakery employees on the ground that......
  • Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 9742
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1998
    ...Clause). Insofar as the plurality avoids reliance upon the Due Process Clause for fear of resurrecting Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), and related doctrines of "substantive due process,'' that fear is misplaced. Cf. id., at 75-76, 25 S.Ct., at 546-547 (H......
  • Riley v. National Federation of the Blind of North Carolina, Inc, No. 87-328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 29, 1988
    ...But ever since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379, 57 S.Ct. 578, 81 L.Ed. 703 (1937), finally overruled Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905), and Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525, 43 S.Ct. 394, 67 L.Ed. 785 (1923), "paternalism" has been ......
  • Seminole Tribe Florida v. Florida, 9412
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 27, 1996
    ...this practice in the century's early decades that brought this Court to the nadir of competence that we identify with Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905).60 It was the defining characteristic of the Lochner era, and its characteristic vice, that the Court tre......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 firm's commentaries
  • The Two-Front War on the Administrative State: How Far Will the Supreme Court Go?
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • July 5, 2022
    ...courageous State may…serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” [25] 198 U.S. 45 (1905) (holding unconstitutional a New York state statute limiting bakers to a 10 hour day because it interfered with the contractual rights o......
  • The Two-Front War on the Administrative State: How Far Will the Supreme Court Go?
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • July 5, 2022
    ...courageous State may…serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” [25] 198 U.S. 45 (1905) (holding unconstitutional a New York state statute limiting bakers to a 10 hour day because it interfered with the contractual rights o......
35 books & journal articles
  • The Limitations of 'Sic Utere Tuo...': Planning by Private Law Devices
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...of legislative schemes that the same jurist so eloquently condemned in his dissent in the still-notorious 24 case of Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905). Seventeen years before Pennsylvania Coal , Holmes had claimed: This case is decided upon an economic theory which a large part of the......
  • The Regulatory Takings Battleground: Environmental Regulation of Land Versus Private-Property Rights
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...position similar to that adopted by the Court today: “If accepted, that claim would represent a return to the era of Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), when common-law rights were also found immune from revision by State or Federal Government. Such an approach would freeze the common ......
  • RACE IN CONTRACT LAW.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 170 Nbr. 5, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...GAGE, THE DAY WALL STREET EXPLODED: A STORY OF AMERICA IN ITS FIRST AGE OF TERROR 8 (2009). (149) See generally Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905) (holding that a New York statute prohibiting bakers from working more than sixty hours per week violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Pro......
  • PROCEDURAL LOSSES AND THE PYRRHIC VICTORY OF ABOLISHING QUALIFIED IMMUNITY.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 99 Nbr. 5, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...the pages of The Onion."); County of Butler v. Wolf, 486 F. Supp. 3d 883 (W.D. Pa. 2020) (Stickman, J.) (citing Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), approvingly); see also Paul Gowder, The Dangers to the American Rule of Law Will Outlast the Next Election, 2020 CARDOZO L. REV. DE NOVO 1......
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