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Hammer v. Dagenhart- 1918

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Taylor Harvey

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of Hammer v. Dagenhart- 1918

Hammer V. Dagenhart court case It was not uncommon for children to work long hours in factories, mills and other industrial settings. Many families depended on the income earned by their children. Public concern about the effect this kind of work had on children began to rise. Advocates for child labor laws pointed out that children who worked such long hours (sometimes as much as sixty or seventy hours a week) were deprived of education, fresh air, and time to play. They also worried about the physical risks: children in factories had high accident rates. Some states passed laws restricting child labor, but these placed states with restrictions at an economic disadvantage. In response to these concerns, Congress passed the Keating-Owen Act of 1916. This law forbade the shipment across state lines of goods made in factories which employed children under the age of 14, or children between 14 and 16 who worked more than eight hours a day, overnight, or more than six days/week. Roland H. Dagenhart filed a lawsuit in North Carolina on behalf of his sons Reuben and John, challenging the Keating-Owen Act. Under the provisions of the law, his two sons would have been barred from working in a cotton mill, as one son was under 14-years old and the older son was under 16-years of age. Dagen-hart asked the U.S. District Court to strike down the law as unconstitutional and eventually taking his case to the Supreme Court.

First, he argued that the law was not a regulation of commerce. Secondly, he believed the Tenth Amendment left the power to make rules for child labor to the states. Finally, his liberty and property protected by the Fifth Amendment included the right to allow his children to work. Breaking it down. Commerce Clause- line seperating state and federal laws.

Keating-Owen child labor Act- limiting child working hours and forbid interstate sale of goods produced by child labor.

10th amendment- reserves to the states all powers that are not granted to the federal gov. except those that are forbidden from exercising.

5th amendment- "nor shall be compelled...to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property..." Dagenhart sued because the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act went against the Commerce Clause and the 10th Amendment because he believed the state had control over hours the children could work. He did not want them to forbid his sons from working because of the 5th Amendment. Using the 5th Amendment, he wanted to prove that he couldn't live life without his sons to help on the mill because that was their only source of income. William Day(Wrote Concurring)
Edward White
Willis Van Devanter
Mahlon Pitney
James McReynolds The Case. 1918- Oliver W. Holmes Jr.(wrote dissent)
Joseph McKenna
Louis D. Brandeis
John H. Clarke Minority- Majority- 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 purely state authority. Thus, the act in a two-fold sense is repugnant to the Constitution. It not only transcends the authority delegated to Congress over commerce, but also exerts a power as to a purely local matter to which the federal authority does not extend. The far-reaching result of upholding the act cannot be more plainly indicated than by pointing out that, if Congress can thus regulate matters entrusted to local authority by prohibition of the movement of commodities in interstate commerce, all freedom of commerce will be at an end, and the power of the States over local matters may be eliminated, and, thus, our system of government be practically destroyed. 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 upon 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. The public policy of the United States is shaped with a view to the benefit of the nation as a whole.If, as has been the case within the memory of men still living, a State should take a different view of the propriety of sustaining a lottery from that which generally prevails, I cannot believe that the fact would require a different decision from that reached in Champion v. Ames. Yet, in that case, it would be said with quite as much force as in this that Congress was attempting to intermeddle with the State's domestic affairs. The national welfare, as understood by Congress, may require a different attitude within its sphere from that of some self-seeking State. It seems to me entirely constitutional for Congress to enforce its understanding by all the means at its command.
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