Pierce v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (1925)

Key Facts– Oregon required that all youths attend public school, and parents and guardians obtained orders of restraint against this.

Issue– Can a state compel all youths to attend public schools?

Holding– No

Results– Law overturned

Reasoning– The state is not acting under exigent circumstances here. Also, children are not “mere creature[s] of the state.” Their families have a right and a duty to nurture them, which includes providing an education.

Lochner v. New York (1905)

Key Facts– A law was passed, limiting the number of hours people working in bakeries and certain related jobs could work to sixty per week and ten per day.

Issue– Is such a law, restricting employer-employee conduct, constitutional?

Holding– No.

Result– Law overturned

Reasoning– The statute interferes with the right to contract, which is a liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. This is also not something that can be regulated under state police power, which is construed as referring to safety, health, morals, and general welfare of the public only. In different areas of employment, limiting working hours to a certain number might make sense. In mining, it might make sense that hours be limited by the government for safety reasons. Here, the court rules that there is no such reasonable ground for interference in baking. Public safety is not benefited by the statute, and they suggest that should be the criteria used to examine a statute purporting to promote public health.