Lochner v. New York: Economic Regulation on Trial / Edition 1

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Overview


Lochner v. New York (1905), which pitted a conservative activist judiciary against a reform-minded legislature, remains one of the most important and most frequently cited cases in Supreme Court history. In this concise and readable guide, Paul Kens shows us why the case remains such an important marker in the ideological battles between the free market and the regulatory state.

The Supreme Court's decision declared unconstitutional a New York State law limiting bakery workers to no more than ten hours per day or sixty hours per week. By evoking its "police power," the state hoped to eliminate the employers' abuse of these workers. But the 5-4 majority opinion, authored by Justice Rufus Peckham and renounced by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, cited the state's violation of due process and the "right of contract between employers and employees," which the majority believed was protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Critics jumped on the decision as an example of conservative juidicial activism promoting laissez-faire capitalism at the expense of progressive reform. As series editors Peter Hoffer and N.E.H. Hull note in their preface, "the case also raised a host of significant questions regarding the impetus of state legislatures to enter the workplace and regulate hours, wages, and working conditions; of the role of courts as monitors of the constitutionality of state regulation of the economy; and of the place of economic and moral theories in judicial thinking."

Kens, however, reminds us that these hotly contested ideas and principles emerged from a very real human drama involving workers, owners, legislators, lawyers, and judges. Within the crucible of an industrializing America, their story reflected the fierce competition between two powerful ideologies.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Kens (political science and history, Southwest Texas State U.) studies a 1905 Supreme Court overturning, of a New York State law limiting bakery workers to no more than ten hours a day. The decision was criticized as promoting laissez-faire capitalism at the expense of progressive reform. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700609192
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Series: Landmark Law Cases and American Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 769,173
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents


Editors' Preface

Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

2. Not Like Grandma Used to Bake

3. A Long Struggle for Shorter Hours

4. The Politics of Business as Usual

5. Tenement Reform Looks in the Cellar

6. Free to Bake or Left to Toil?

7. Nothing to Do with Due Process

8. Freedom to Agree to Anything

9. The Final Forum

10. Reform's Nemesis

11. The Lochner Era

12. Epilogue

Chronology

Bibliographical Essay

Index

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