In Hammer v. Dagenhart (also known as the "Child Labor Case"), the Court voids a federal statute that had prohibited the interstate shipment of goods produced by child laborers. The decision cites the Tenth Amendment in stating that only states may regulate child labor.
The Court upholds the constitutionality of the military draft. The decision in Arver v. United States holds that compulsive military service does not fall within the definition of "involuntary servitude" prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment.
Following the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment, Congress passes the National Prohibition Enforcement (Volstead) Act, banning "intoxicating liquors" with more than 0.5 percent alcohol. The IRS is designated as the enforcer of the act. In 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment repeals the Eighteenth.
The Nineteenth Amendment extends the right to vote to women.
President Warren Harding appoints William Howard Taft Chief Justice. Taft, president from 1909 to 1913, remains the only American to have been both a U.S. President and a member of the Supreme Court.
A cartoon satirizes the 1923 case Adkins v. Children's Hospital, depicting Justice George Sutherland handing a female worker the Court's decision. The caption reads, "This decision, madam, affirms your constitutional right to starve."
Reproduction courtesy of the Library of Congress
Future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter appears before the Court on behalf of the National Consumers League in Adkins v. Children's Hospital. Frankfurter, arguing to uphold a Washington, D.C. minimum wage law for women, submits to the Court a "Brandeis brief" that provides extensive data regarding the economic plight of working women. The Court votes to overturn the law, looking to the 1905 decision in Lochner instead of the 1908 case Muller v. Oregon for precedent.
In Buck v. Bell, the Court upholds a Virginia law, purportedly designed to promote the "health of the patient and the welfare of society," which compels "feebleminded" women at state institutions to undergo sterilization procedures.
Chief Justice Taft convinces Congress to allocate funds to construct a building for the Supreme Court, which has never occupied a building of its own. Since 1860 the Court has met in the old Senate Chamber in the Capitol building. Construction begins in 1932.