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have unbounded power, and it would be enough to say that any piece of legislation was enacted to conserve the morals, the health, or the safety of the people; such legislation would be valid, no matter how absolutely without foundation the claim might be. The claim of the police power would be a mere pretext,-become another and delusive name for the supreme sovereignty of the state to be exercised free from constitutional restraint. This is not contended for. In every case that comes before this court, therefore, where legislation of this character is concerned, and where the protection of the Federal Constitution is sought, the question necessarily arises: Is this a fair, reasonable, and appropriate exercise of the police power of the state, or is it an unreasonable, unnecessary, and arbitrary interference with the right of the individual to his personal liberty, or to enter into those contracts in relation to labor which may seem to him appropriate or necessary for the support of himself and his family? Of course the liberty of contract relating to labor includes both parties to it. The one has as much right to purchase as the other to sell labor.
This is not a question of substituting the judgment of the court for that of the legislature. If the act be within the power of the state it is valid, although the judgment of the court might be totally opposed to the enactment of such a law. But the question would still remain: Is it within the police power of the state? and that question must be answered by the court.
those who are engaged in that occupation. Clean and wholesome bread does not depend upon whether the baker works but ten hours per day or only sixty hours a week. The limitation of the hours of labor does not come within the police power on that ground.
It is a question of which of two powers or rights shall prevail,-the power of the state to legislate or the right of the individual to liberty of person and freedom of contract. The mere assertion that the subject relates, though but in a remote degree, to the public health, does not necessarily render the enactment valid. The act must have a more direct relation, as a means to an end, and the end itself must be appropriate and legitimate, before an act can be held to be valid which interferes with the general right of an individual to be free in his person and in his power to contract in relation to his own labor.
This case has caused much diversity of opinion in the state courts. In the supreme court two of the five judges composing the court dissented from the judgment affirming the validity of the act. In the court of appeals three of the seven judges also dissented from the judgment upholding the statute. Although found in what is called a labor law of the state, the court of appeals has upheld the act as one relating to the public health,-in other words, as a health law. One of the judges of the court of appeals, in upholding the law, stated that, in his opinion, the regulation in question could not be sustained unless they were able to say, from common knowledge, that working in a bakery and candy factory was an unhealthy employment. The judge held that, while the evidence was not uniform, it still led him to the conclusion that the occupation of a baker or confectioner was unhealthy and tended to result in diseases of the respiratory organs. Three of the judges dissented from that view, and not to such an extent unhealthy as to warthey thought the occupation of a baker was rant the interference of the legislature with the liberty of the individual.
The question whether this act is valid as a labor law, pure and simple, may be dismissed in a few words. There is no reasonable ground for interfering with the liberty of person or the right of free contract, by determining the hours of labor, in the occupation of a baker. There is no contention that bakers as a class are not equal in intelligence and capacity to men in other trades or manual occupations, or that they are not able to assert their rights and care for themselves without the protecting arm of the state, interfering with their indeWe think the limit of the police power pendence of judgment and of action. They has been reached and passed in this case. are in no sense wards of the state. Viewed There is, in our judgment, no reasonable in the light of a purely labor law, with no foundation for holding this to be necessary reference whatever to the question of health, or appropriate as a health law to safeguard we think that a law like the one before us the public health, or the health of the indiinvolves neither the safety, the morals, nor viduals who are following the trade of a the welfare, of the public, and that the baker. If this statute be valid, and if, interest of the public is not in the slightest therefore, a proper case is made out in degree affected by such an act. The law which to deny the right of an individual, must be upheld, if at all, as a law pertain-sui juris, as employer or employee, to ing to the health of the individual engaged make contracts for the labor of the latter in the occupation of a baker. It does not It does not under the protection of the provisions of affect any other portion of the public than the Federal Constitution, there would seem
bank clerks, or others, from contracting to labor for their employers more than eight hours a day would be invalid. It might be said that it is unhealthy to work more than that number of hours in an apartment lighted by artificial light during the working hours of the day; that the occupation of the bank clerk, the lawyer's clerk, the realestate clerk, or the broker's clerk, in such offices is therefore unhealthy, and the legislature, in its paternal wisdom, must, therefore, have the right to legislate on the subject of, and to limit, the hours for such labor; and, if it exercises that power, and its validity be questioned, it is sufficient to say, it has reference to the public health; it has reference to the health of the employees condemned to labor day after day in buildings where the sun never shines; it is a health law, and therefore it is valid, and cannot be questioned by the courts.
to be no length to which legislation of this | ployees. Upon the assumption of the validnature might not go. The case differs wide-ity of this act under review, it is not possily, as we have already stated, from the ex-ble to say that an act, prohibiting lawyers' or pressions of this court in regard to laws of this nature, as stated in Holden v. Hardy, 169 U. S. 366, 42 L. ed. 780, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 383, and Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 358, 49 L. ed. -. We think that there can be no fair doubt that the trade of a baker, in and of itself, is not an unhealthy one to that degree which would authorize the legislature to interfere with the right to labor, and with the right of free contract on the part of the individual, either as employer or employee. In looking through statistics regarding all trades and occupations, it may be true that the trade of a baker does not appear to be as healthy as some other trades, and is also vastly more healthy than still others. To the common understanding the trade of a baker has never been regarded as an unhealthy one. Very likely physicians would not recommend the exercise of that or of any other trade as a remedy for ill health. Some occupations are more healthy than others, but we think there are none which might not come under the power of the legislature to supervise and control the hours of working therein, if the mere fact that the occupation is not absolutely and perfectly healthy is to confer that right upon the legislative department of the government. It might be safely affirmed that almost all occupations more or less affect the health. There must be more than the mere fact of the possible existence of some small amount of unhealthiness to warrant legislative interference with liberty. It is unfortunately true that labor, even in any department, may possibly carry with it the seeds of unhealthiness. But are we all, on that account, at the mercy of legislative majorities? A printer, a tinsmith, a locksmith, a carpenter, a cabinetmaker, a dry goods clerk, a bank's, a lawyer's, or a physician's clerk, or a clerk in almost any kind of business, would all come under the power of the legislature, on this assumption. No trade, no occupation, no mode of earning one's living, could escape this all-pervading power, and the acts of the legislature in limiting the hours of labor in all employments would be valid, although such limitation might seriously cripple the ability of of the laborer to support himself and his family. In our large cities there are many buildings into which the sun penetrates for but a short time in each day, and these buildings are occupied by people carrying on the business of bankers, brokers, lawyers, real estate, and many other kinds of business, aided by many clerks, messengers, and other em
It is also urged, pursuing the same line of argument, that it is to the interest of the state that its population should be strong and robust, and therefore any legislation which may be said to tend to make people healthy must be valid as health laws, enacted under the police power. If this be a valid argument and a justification for this kind of legislation, it follows that the protection of the Federal Constitution from undue interference with liberty of person and freedom of contract is visionary, wherever the law is sought to be justified as a valid exercise of the police power. Scarcely any law but might find shelter under such assumptions, and conduct, properly so called, as well as contract, would come under the restrictive sway of the legislature. Not only the hours of employees, but the hours of employers, could be regulated, and doctors, lawyers, scientists, all professional men, as well as athletes and artisans, could be forbidden to fatigue their brains and bodies by prolonged hours of exercise, lest the fighting strength of the state be impaired. We mention these extreme cases because the contention is extreme. We do not believe in the soundness of the views which uphold this law. On the contrary, we think that such a law as this, although passed in the assumed exercise of the police power, and as relating to the public health, or the health of the employees named, is not within that power, and is invalid. The act is not, within any fair meaning of the term, a health law, but is an illegal interference with the rights of individuals, both employers and employees, to make contracts regarding labor upon such terms as they may think best, or which they may agree
upon with the other parties to such con- | the reasoning to be sufficient to justify the tracts. Statutes of the nature of that under claimed right of such interference. The review, limiting the hours in which grown state in that case would assume the position and intelligent men may labor to earn their of a supervisor, or pater familias, over living, are mere meddlesome interferences every act of the individual, and its right of with the rights of the individual, and they governmental interference with his hours are not saved from condemnation by the of labor, his hours of exercise, the character claim that they are passed in the exercise thereof, and the extent to which it shall be of the police power and upon the subject of carried would be recognized and upheld. In the health of the individual whose rights our judgment it is not possible in fact to are interfered with, unless there be some discover the connection between the number fair ground, reasonable in and of itself, to of hours a baker may work in the bakery say that there is material danger to the and the healthful quality of the bread made public health, or to the health of the em- by the workman. by the workman. The connection, if any ployees, if the hours of labor are not cur- exist, is too shadowy and thin to build any tailed. If this be not clearly the case, the argument for the interference of the legis individuals whose rights are thus made the lature. If the man works ten hours a day subject of legislative interference are under it is all right, but if ten and a half or eleven the protection of the Federal Constitution his health is in danger and his bread may regarding their liberty of contract as well be unhealthy, and, therefore, he shall not as of person; and the legislature of the be permitted to do it. This, we think, is state has no power to limit their right as unreasonable and entirely arbitrary. When proposed in this statute. All that it could assertions such as we have adverted to beproperly do has been done by it with regard come necessary in order to give, if possible, to the conduct of bakeries, as provided for a plausible foundation for the contention in the other sections of the act, above set that the law is a "health law," it gives rise forth. These several sections provide for to at least a suspicion that there was some the inspection of the premises where the other other motive dominating the legislature bakery is carried on, with regard to fur- than the purpose to subserve the public nishing proper wash rooms and water- health or welfare. closets, apart from the bake room, also with This interference on the part of the legisregard to providing proper drainage, plumb-latures of the several states with the ordiing, and painting; the sections, in addition, provide for the height of the ceiling, the cementing or tiling of floors, where necessary in the opinion of the factory inspector, and for other things of that nature; alterations are also provided for, and are to be made where necessary in the opinion of the inspector, in order to comply with the pro
visions of the statute. These various sec
tions may be wise and valid regulations,
nary trades and occupations of the people seems to be on the increase. In the supreme court of New York, in the case of People v. Beattie, appellate division, first department, decided in 1904 (96 App. Div. 383, 89 N. Y. Supp. 193), a statute regulating the trade of horseshoeing, and requiring the person practising such trade to be examined, and to obtain a certificate from
a board of examiners and file the same with the clerk of the county wherein the person proposes to practise such trade, was held invalid, as an arbitrary interference with personal liberty and private property without due process of law. The attempt was made, unsuccessfully, to justify it as a
The same kind of a statute was held invalid (Re Aubry) by the supreme court of Washington in December, 1904. 900. The court held that the act deprived citizens of their liberty and property withIt was further urged on the argument out due process of law, and denied to them that restricting the hours of labor in the the equal protection of the laws. It also case of bakers was valid because it tended held that the trade of a horseshoer is not a to cleanliness on the part of the workers, as subject of regulation under the police power a man was more apt to be cleanly when not of the state, as a business concerning and overworked, and if cleanly then his "out- directly affecting the health, welfare, or put" was also more likely to be so. What comfort of its inhabitants; and that, therehas already been said applies with equal fore, a law which provided for the examinaforce to this contention. We do not admit 'tion and registration of horseshoers in 25 S. C.-35.
certain cities was unconstitutional, as an illegitimate exercise of the police power.
The supreme court of Illinois, in Bessette v. People, 193 Ill. 334, 56 L. R. A. 558, 62 N. E. 215, also held that a law of the same nature, providing for the regulation and licensing of horseshoers, was unconstitutional as an illegal interference with the liberty of the individual in adopting and pursuing such calling as he may choose, subject only to the restraint necessary to secure the common welfare. See also Godcharles v. Wigeman, 113 Pa. 431, 437, 6 Atl. 354; Low v. Rees Printing Co. 41 Neb. 127, 145, 24 L. R. A. 702, 43 Am. St. Rep. 670, 59 N. W. 362. In these cases the courts upheld the right of free contract and the right to purchase and sell labor upon such terms as the parties may agree to.
It is impossible for us to shut our eyes to the fact that many of the laws of this character, while passed under what is claimed to be the police power for the purpose of protecting the public health or welfare, are, in reality, passed from other motives. We are justified in saying so when, from the character of the law and the subject upon which it legislates, it is apparent that the public health or welfare bears but the most remote relation to the law. The purpose of a statute must be determined from the natural and legal effect of the language employed; and whether it is or is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States must be determined from the natural effect of such statutes when put into operation, and not from their proclaimed purpose. Minnesota v. Barber, 136 U. S. 313, 34 L. ed. 455, 3 Inters. Com. Rep. 185, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 862; Brimmer v. Rebman, 138 U. S. 78, 34 L. ed. 862, 3 Inters. Com. Rep. 485, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 213. The court looks beyond the mere letter of the law in such cases. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 30 L. ed. 220, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1064.
It is manifest to us that the limitation of the hours of labor as provided for in this section of the statute under which the indictment was found, and the plaintiff in error convicted, has no such direct relation to, and no such substantial effect upon, the health of the employee, as to justify us in regarding the section as really a health law. It seems to us that the real object and purpose were simply to regulate the hours of labor between the master and his employees (all being men, sui juris), in a private business, not dangerous in any degree to morals, or in any real and substantial degree to the health of the employees. Under such circumstances the freedom of master and employee to contract with each other in relation to their employment, and in de
fining the same, cannot be prohibited or interfered with, without violating the Federal Constitution.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals of New York, as well as that of the Supreme Court and of the County Court of Oneida County, must be reversed and the case remanded to the County Court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Mr. Justice Holmes dissenting:
I regret sincerely that I am unable to agree with the judgment in this case, and that I think it my duty to express my dissent.
This case is decided upon an economic theory which a large part of the country does not entertain. If it were a question whether I agreed with that theory, I should desire to study it further and long before making up my mind. But I do not conceive that to be my duty, because I strongly believe that my agreement or disagreement has nothing to do with the right of a majority to embody their opinions in law. It is settled by various decisions of this court that state constitutions and state laws may regulate life in many ways which we as legislators might think as injudicious, or if you like as tyrannical, as this, and which, equally with this, interfere with the liberty to contract. Sunday laws and usury laws are ancient examples. A more modern one is the prohibition of lotteries. The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same, which has been a shibboleth for some well-known writers, is interfered with by school laws, by the Postoffice, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not. The 14th Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics. The other day we sustained the Massachusetts Massachusetts vaccination law. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 358, 49 L. ed. United States and state statutes and decisions cutting down the liberty to contract by way of combination are familiar to this court. Northern Securities Co. v. United States, 193 U. S. 197, 48 L. ed. 679, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 436. Two years ago we upheld the prohibition of sales of stock on margins, or for future delivery, in the Constitution of California. Otis v. Parker, 187 U. S. 606, 47 L. ed. 323, 23 Sup. Ct. Rep. 168. The decision sustaining an eight-hour law for miners is still recent. Holden v. Hardy, 169 U. S. 366, 42 L. ed. 780, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 383. Some of these laws embody convictions or prejudices which judges are
interfere with the power of the state, sometimes termed its police power, to prescribe regulations to promote the health, peace, morals, education, and good order of the people.'
likely to share. Some may not. But a connection with that protection to life, Constitution is not intended to embody a health, and property which each state owes particular economic theory, whether of to her citizens." So in Barbier v. Connolly, paternalism and the organic relation of the 113 U. S. 27, 28 L. ed. 923, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. citizen to the state or of laissez faire. It 357: "But neither the [14th] Amendment, is made for people of fundamentally differ--broad and comprehensive as it is,-nor ing views, and the accident of our finding any other amendment, was designed to certain opinions natural and familiar, or novel, and even shocking, ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States. General propositions do not decide concrete cases. The decision will depend on a judgment or intuition more subtle than any articulate major premise. But I think that the proposition just stated, if it is accepted, will carry us far toward the end. Every opinion tends to become a law. I think that the word "liberty," in the 14th Amendment, is perverted when it is held to prevent the natural outcome of a dominant opinion, unless it can be said that a rational and fair man necessarily would admit that the statute proposed would infringe fundamental principles as they have been understood by the traditions of our people and our law. It does not need research to show that no such sweeping condemnation can be passed upon the statute before us. A reasonable man might think it a proper measure on the score of health. Men whom I certainly could not pronounce unreasonable would uphold it as a first instalment of a general regulation of the hours of work. Whether in the latter aspect it would be open to the charge of inequality I think it unnecessary to discuss.
Mr. Justice Harlan (with whom Mr. Justice White and Mr. Justice Day concurred) dissenting:
While this court has not attempted to mark the precise boundaries of what is called the police power of the state, the existence of the power has been uniformly recognized, equally by the Federal and State courts.
All the cases agree that this power extends at least to the protection of the lives, the health, and the safety of the public against the injurious exercise by any citizen of his own rights.
In Patterson v. Kentucky, 97 U. S. 501, 24 L. ed. 1115, after referring to the general principle that rights given by the Constitution cannot be impaired by state legislation of any kind, this court said: "It [this court] has, nevertheless, with marked distinctness and uniformity, recognized the necessity, growing out of the fundamental conditions of civil society, of upholding state police regulations which were enacted in good faith, and had appropriate and direct
Speaking generally, the state, in the exercise of its powers, may not unduly interfere with the right of the citizen to enter into contracts that may be necessary and essential in the enjoyment of the inherent rights belonging to everyone, among which rights is the right "to be free in the enjoyment of all his faculties, to be free to use them in all lawful ways, to live and work where he will, to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling, to pursue any livelihood or avocation." This was declared in Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U. S. 578, 589, 41 L. ed. 832, 835, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 427, 431. But in the same case it was conceded that the right to contract in relation to persons and property, or to do business, within a state, may be "regulated, and sometimes prohibited, when the contracts or business conflict with the policy of the state as contained in its statutes." (p. 591, L. ed. p. 836, Sup. Ct. Rep. p. 432.)
So, as said in Holden v. Hardy, 169 U. S. 366, 391, 42 L. ed. 780, 790, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 383, 388: "This right of contract, however, is itself subject to certain limitations which the state may lawfully impose in the exercise of its police powers. While this power is inherent in all governments, it has doubtless been greatly expanded in its application during the past century, owing to an enormous increase in the number of occupations which are dangerous, or so far detrimental, to the health of employees as to demand special precautions for their well-being and protection, or or the safety of adjacent property. While this court has held, notably in the cases Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U. S. 97, 24 L. ed. 616, and Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, 118 U. S. 356, 30 L. ed. 220, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1064, that the police power cannot be put forward as an excuse for oppressive and unjust legislation, it may be lawfully resorted to for the purpose of preserving the public health, safety, or morals, or the abatement of public nuisances; and a large discretion 'is necessarily vested in the legislature to determine, not only what the interests of the public require, but what measures are necessary for the protection of such interests.' Lawton v. Steele, 152 U. S. 133, 136,