legislature has done comes within the rule that, if a statute purporting to have been
enacted to protect the public health, the public morals or the public safety, has no
real or substantial relation to those objects, or is, beyond all question, a plain,
palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law. If there is doubt as to
the validity of the statute, that doubt must be resolved in favor of its validity, and
the courts must keep their hands off, leaving the legislature to meet the
responsibility for unwise legislation. When the validity of a statute is questioned, the
burden of proof is upon those who assert it to be unconstitutional."
According to Justice Harlan: "This statute was enacted in order to protect the
physical well being of those who work in bakery and confectionery establishments.
The statute must be taken as expressing the belief of the people of New York that,
as a general rule, and in the case of the average man, labor in excess of sixty hours
during a week in such establishments may endanger the health of those who thus
labor. I find it impossible, in view of common experience, to say that there is no real
or substantial relation between the means employed by the State and the end sought
to be accomplished by its legislation. We should sustain the statute as not being in
conflict with the Federal Constitution because it is has not been shown to be plainly
and palpably inconsistent with it. The judgment should be affirmed."
DISSENTING OPINION 2 (Justice Holmes): Outraged by the Court's decision in
Lochner, Justice Holmes advanced the following perspective: "The word ‘liberty‛ in
the fourteenth amendment does not invalidate a statute unless it reasonably can be
said that the statute infringes fundamental principles of our people and our law. A
citizen‛s liberty is regulated by many state laws which have been held to be valid, i.e.,
the Sunday laws, the lottery laws, and laws requiring vaccination. This law is clearly
related to public health and ought to be upheld. The Constitution was not intended to
embody a particular economic view and is not a document about economic philosophy."
Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905).
NOTE: In his dissent, Justice Harlan called for a standard of review of statutes
falling within the states‛ police powers under a rational basis test, with a presumption
that the state is acting properly, and with the burden on the challenger to rebut that
presumption by showing the law is not rationally related to state police powers. The
majority applied strict scrutiny and placed the burden on the state to show that its
law was not unconstitutional.
Well folks, that's Lochner in a nutshell. It lies before you and, though the passage of
time and changes in doctrine have tempered the controversy stirred by the Court's
decision, I encourage you to revisit Lochner again.
In latin, the phrase "tabula rasa" refers to a "blank slate." And Thomas Paine reminds
us that "time makes more converts than reason." I encourage you to endeavor, as best
you can, to turn back the clock and imagine yourself sitting as an Associate Justice of