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Adair v. United States

Significance, New Laws To Protect Workers' Rights, The Right To Fire Is Absolute


William Adair


United States

Petitioner's Claim

That Adair's conviction under the Erdman Act, which made it a crime to fire an employee for belonging to a labor union, should be reversed.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

Benjamin D. Warfield, Henry L. Stone

Chief Lawyers for Respondent

Charles Bonaparte, William R. Harr

Justices for the Court

David Josiah Brewer, William Rufus Day, Melville Weston Fuller, John Marshall Harlan I (writing for the Court), Rufus Wheeler Peckham, Edward Douglass White

Justices Dissenting

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph McKenna (William Henry Moody did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

17 January 1908


The Court reversed the petitioner's conviction by the lower court; the Erdman Act was unconstitutional when it forbade firing an employee for belonging to a labor union.

Related Cases

  • Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905).
  • Phelps Dodge Corp. v. N.L.R.B., 313 U.S. 177 (1941)
  • Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Intern. Union Local 54 v. Danziger, 709 F.2d 815 (1983).

Further Readings

  • Fiss, Owen. History of the Supreme Court of the United States. Volume VIII: Troubled Beginnings of the Modern State. New York: Macmillan, 1993.
  • Kens, Paul. Judicial Power and Reform Politics: The Anatomy of Lochner v. New York. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.
  • Semonche, John E. Charting the Future: The Supreme Court Responds to a Changing Society, 1890-1920. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1978.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917