Hammer v. DagenhartU.S. Case Law
Legal Definition of Hammer v. Dagenhart
247 U.S. 251 (1918), struck down the Keating-Owen Act, 39 Stat. 675 (1916), which had regulated child labor. The Supreme Court ruled that the Keating-Owen Act exceeded federal authority and represented an unwarranted encroachment on state powers to determine local labor conditions. In a notable dissent, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., pointed to the evils of excessive child labor, to the inability of states to regulate child labor, and to the unqualified right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce—including the “power to prohibit.” The Court's ruling would not be overturned until 1941 (see also United States v. Darby Lumber Co.).
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