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Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

THE ISSUE

In Hammer v. Dagenhart, the Supreme Court was charged with assessing both the Commerce Clause and the Tenth Amendment with respect to the relative powers of federal and state governments. Hammer v. Dagenhart put this question before the Court: Does the authority vested in Congress to regulate commerce among the states allow it to enact legislation targeting manufacturing practices?

THE OPINION?

Below are two opinions. Click on the answer you think represents the Supreme Court's majority opinion in Hammer v. Dagenhart.

Yes No
Photo of a child laborer in a factory.

YES, the authority vested in Congress to regulate commerce among the states does allow it to enact legislation targeting manufacturing practices.

"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."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Yes


Photo of a group of child laborers at work.

NO, the authority vested in Congress to regulate commerce among the states does not allow it to enact legislation targeting manufacturing practices.

"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... For these reasons we hold that this law exceeds the constitutional authority of Congress."
-- William Day

No