Joseph Lochner v. People of the State of New York

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation25 S.Ct. 539,198 U.S. 45,3 Ann.Cas. 1133,49 L.Ed. 937
Docket NumberNo. 292,292
Decision Date17 April 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 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 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.

Mr. Julius M. Mayer for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 50-52 intentionally omitted] 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 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 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 determination of questions regarding the asserted invalidity of such statutes, on the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
956 cases
  • Nekrilov v. City of Jersey City
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • March 24, 2021
    ...283 (4th Cir. 2007) ("The recognition of such a broad ‘right to do business’ would be akin to that recognized in Lochner v. New York , 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. 937 (1905) and its progeny, which the Supreme Court has long since refused to recognize.").6 I thus find that although t......
  • Amador Valley Joint Union High Sch. Dist. v. State Bd. of Equalization, S.F. 23849
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • September 22, 1978
    ....... CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO et al., Petitioners, . v. . Joseph E. TINNEY, as Tax Assessor, etc., et al., Respondents. . S.F. 23849, ... constitutional framework is firmly vested in the Legislature, "the people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum." ...Lochner era (see Lochner v. New York (1905) 198 U.S. 45, 25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. ......
  • Fein v. Permanente Medical Group, S.F. 24336
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 28, 1985
    ......Danner, Donald P. Newell, Los Angeles, Joseph A. Wheelock, Jr., Milton A. Miller, Newport Beach, Musick, ... by the Legislative Counsel Bureau of the California State Legislature in Sacramento, felt a brief pain in his chest ... (See, e.g., People v. Fields (1983) 35 Cal.3d 329, 347-349, 197 Cal.Rptr. 803, ... demise of the substantive due process analysis of Lochner v. New York (1905) 198 U.S. 45 [25 S.Ct. 539, 49 L.Ed. ......
  • Westfall, Matter of, No. 72022
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 3, 1991
    ...... in determining standards to impose when balancing the state's right and need to maintain public confidence in the ... a defense attorney in a Honolulu trial of several people charged with conspiracy under the Smith Act. Six weeks ... The Court first held that the New York Times rule applied in criminal as well as civil actions. ... Rules 84.17, 83.03. . 3 Lochner v. People of State of New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76, 25 S.Ct. ......
  • 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......
89 books & journal articles
  • The Use of Plea Statement Waivers in Pretrial Agreements
    • United States
    • Military Law Review No. 217, September 2013
    • September 1, 2013
    ...grounds , 55 M.J. 182 (C.A.A.F. 2001). 79 This phrase may cause some to hark back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Lochner v. New York , 198 U.S. 45 (1905). The intent is not to argue that there is a constitutional right to freedom of contract, though one can certainly make the case. See ......
  • Nonmarital Contracts.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 73 No. 1, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...the freedom to contract and the justifications raised in the process. (119.) Muller, 208 U.S. at 418-19 (citing Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (120.) Id. (emphasis added). (121.) Id. at 419. (122.) Id. at 420; see Siegel, supra note 115, at 323 (describing Mulleras embracing a "'realism' ......
  • Unpacking Third-Party Standing.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 No. 1, October 2021
    • October 1, 2021 test). (40.) Sunstein, supra note 34, at 179. (41.) See, e.g., Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251 (1918); Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (42.) See Ashwander v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 297 U.S. 288, 341 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring); Daniel E. Ho & Erica L. Ross, Did Liberal......
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 100 No. 3, February 2023
    • February 1, 2023
    ...supra note 7, at 199-200. (41.) Id. at 202. (42.) Sorrell, 564 U.S. at 591-92 (2011) (Breyer, J., dissenting) (citing Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 75-76 (43.) Central Hudson is notable for establishing a four-part test for determining whether government restrictions on commercial speec......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT