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Bunting v. Oregon

Significance, Proper Exercise Of Police Power, Impact, Related Cases


Franklin O. Bunting


State of Oregon

Appellant's Claim

A 1910 Oregon labor law, limiting the number of hours an employee may work in a day and invoking an overtime wage of one-and-half times the regular wage, was unconstitutional.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

W. Lair Thompson, C. W. Fulton

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

Felix Frankfurter, George M. Brown, J. O. Bailey

Justices for the Court

John Hessin Clarke, William Rufus Day, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph McKenna (writing for the Court), Mahlon Pitney

Justices Dissenting

James Clark McReynolds, Willis Van Devanter, Edward Douglass White (Louis D. Brandeis did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

9 April 1917


The Supreme Court held that the Oregon labor law did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The labor law, while limiting the number of hours a laborer could work in specific occupations, did not bar an employer from negotiating wages with employees. The Court also held that the Oregon state labor law did not exceed its constitutional limits. It upheld the Due Process Clause of the Constitution by allowing employers the freedom of contract to negotiate wages.

Further Readings

  • National Association of Quick Printers. "Congress Turns Its Attention Toward Comp Time." Washington Wire, May 1997.
  • Phillips, Michael J. "How Many Times Was Lochner-Era Substantive Due Process Effective?" Mercer Law Review, http://review.law.mercer.edu/48313.thm#text133

Additional topics

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