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Allgeyer v. Louisiana

Rufus Wheeler Peckham

Rufus Wheeler Peckham (1838-1909) served on New York's supreme court and court of appeals before being nominated to the Supreme Court by Grover Cleveland in 1895. Peckham is considered to be one of most level-headed justices to have served on the Supreme Court, often handing down opinions contrary to his own political persuasion. Many of his opinions contributed to the development of the political principles that are the foundation for American government. Some of the cases in which Peckham handed down influential opinions include: United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Association; Hopkins v. United States; Addyston Pipe and Steel Company v. United States; and Maxwell v. Dow.

Ironically, Peckham is best known for an opinion he handed down which, in retrospect, was widely considered a misinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Peckham wrote the majority opinion for Lochner v. New York (1905), a case which challenged the ten-hour work day for laborers. Peckham's decision allowed individuals to make arrangements to work beyond the ten hours per day permitted by law. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes took issue with the decision, in a now famous dissenting opinion, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment was not designed to promote radical individualism at the expense of social and economic justice.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Allgeyer v. Louisiana - Significance, The Regulation Of Business, Liberty To Contract, Impact, Rufus Wheeler Peckham, Further Readings