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Legal Case: Hammer Vs. Dagenhart (1918)


            The powers of the national government are enumerated and empowered in the United States Constitution. In Article I, Section 8, Congress is authorized "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." The Supreme Court of the United States has reviewed several court cases to determine "whether this expansion of national power is consistent with the constitutional design of the Founders or whether it undermines the federal system established by the Constitution."1 Such control over commerce by Congress can be viewed as Congress expanding its authority. In the American early 1900's, industry flourished and the United States population from 1900 to 1910 grew by 21% from 76 million to 92 million. 2 "From about 1880 through the mid-1920s, America experi¬≠enced an immigration boom, "the Great Wave," during which immigration averaged 600,000 annually. This was the period during which the U.S. industrialized, creating a huge demand for factory workers. The demand was filled primarily by European immigrants; particularly, in its second half, with immigrants from southern and eastern Europe."3 Additionally, due to the dependence families had on their children to assist the family to provide a living, children were trading their childhoods, education, safety, and health to assist their parents. They often worked long hours (sometimes as much as sixty or seventy hours a week) in unsafe conditions "as miners, messengers, mill workers, and factory employees." for unfair low wages.4 Concerns about the effect these jobs had on children and laws regarding child labor and minimum age began to surface and by 1910 a majority of states had implemented such laws. Some states passed laws restricting child labor causing an economic disadvantage for those states.
             In its role to regulate interstate commerce, Congress enacted The Keating-Owen Act of 1916 that "forbade the shipment across state lines of goods made in factories which employed children under the age of 14, or children between 14 and 16 who worked more than eight hours a day, overnight, or more than six days/week.


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