1 minute read

Adkins v. Children's Hospital

Protective Legislation V. Equality

The First Wave women's movement was also hopelessly divided over the issue of special rights versus equal rights for women, as it had been since 1908, when the Supreme Court upheld Oregon's hours law for women in Muller v. Oregon. Alice Paul and supporters Anne Henrietta Martin and Burbita Shelton Matthews wanted all inequalities between women and men in the law eradicated from jury service, property, custody, guardianship, marriage, divorce, and work. They recognized immediately the sexism implied in legislation to protect only women workers. Paul's slogan "Equality not Protection" repudiated these statutes.

However, Paul's former colleagues in the suffrage movement--Florence Kelley, Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop, and Margaret Dreir Robbins--championed the new wages and hours laws. Their views were shared by groups such as the League for Women Voters and the National Consumers' League, whose stated goals included social welfare legislation for women and children. They were joined by the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, women in the labor movement, and bureaucrats in the Women's Bureau (part of the Department of Labor) created in 1920. In their minds, support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would set back the protective legislation for women that had been winning support in the states.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Adkins v. Children's Hospital - Significance, Protective Legislation V. Equality, But Are They Constitutional?, History Of The Minimum Wage