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Lochner v. New York

Due Process And Daniel Webster

In 1819, Daniel Webster had argued that in nullifying the charter of a private college, New Hampshire had performed a semi-judicial act that had, in effect, deprived Dartmouth of its "substantive due process" rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Weissman-Field team--elaborating on this theory that a state may not invade the rights of persons or property--posed a series of questions to test whether legislators truly had the health and safety of the public in mind when they passed a law:

Does a danger exist? Is it of sufficient magnitude? Does it concern the public? Does the proposed measure tend to remove it? Is the restraint or requirement in proportion to the danger? Is it possible to secure the object sought without impairing essential rights and principles? Does the choice of a particular measure show that some other interest than safety or health was the actual motive of legislation?

Julius M. Mayer, the newly appointed attorney general, made a surprisingly brief 18-page response. He said baking required heavy lifting and carrying; because of the flour dust and germs in the air, lung diseases sickened workers. Tuberculosis killed many of them. Therefore, the state could regulate work hours for the public good.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Lochner v. New York - Significance, A Baker's Lawyer, Due Process And Daniel Webster, A Surprise Verdict