Liberty of Contract and the Commerce Clause

1908 Columbia Law Review  
Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the mid--seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non--commercial purposes. Read more about Early Journal
more » ... out Early Journal Content at JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact v. Manlice, supra, expressly stated that such a direction would be invalid under the statute. See Smith v. Parsons, supra, I20. Unless both directions are held valid, it is submitted that the practical results of the view advanced here are the better, for if the other view be taken, i. e. that "sole benefit" means total possible legal benefit, both directions are invalidated, thus defeating the apparent object of the statute, the policy of the court as to infants, and the intent of the testator, for the infant will take the accumulations as they accrue, since he is the person presumptively entitled to the next eventual estate. 38 N. Y. Law Jour. No. 132; 7 COLUMBIA LAW REVIEV 403. LIBERTY OF CONTRACT AND THE COMMERCE CLAUSE.-Section 10 of the Erdmann Act, passed in I898 in the hope of preventing railway strikes, and providing for voluntary arbitration of labor disputes between interstate carriers and their employees, made it a misdemeanor for an interstate carrier or its agent to dismiss an employee because of his membership in a labor union. This section has recently been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, two Justices dissenting. Adair v. United States (Jan. 27, I908). Two grounds were given for the decision: (i) The Act deprived the plaintiff, an agent of a railway company, of the liberty guaranteed him by Amendment V, U. S. Const.; (2) The subject of the section bore no such relation to interstate commerce as to warrant Congressional regulation. The second ground indicates a slight narrowing of the court's interpretation of the commerce clause. Congress has power over the persons engaged in interstate commerce in so far as its action constitutes a regulation of that commerce; Cooley v. Board of Wardens (U. S. 185I) 12 How. 299, 316; 7 COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW IX6; although it may not interfere with their general business affairs. Emlployers' Liability Act Cases (1908) 207 U. S. 463, 502; Interstate Commerce Commission v. Harrimant (I9o8) I57 Fed. 432. But, although Congress possesses a large discretion as to the means of executing its power, Lottery Case (I902) 188 U. S. 321, 355, the professed regulation must always bear a substantial relation to interstate commerce. United States v. E. C. Knight Co. (1894) 156 U. S. I; Hopkins v. United States (I898) 171 U. S. 578; 7 COLUMBIA LAW REIEWv 1I6. In the principal case the connection between interstate commerce and the employee's membership in a labor union seems distinctly more remote than was the case even in the Employers' Liability Act decision. Had the regulation tended to increase the efficiency of the service, as by prescribing actual qualifications for employees, it would probably have been sustained; Smith v. Alabamla (1888) 124 U. S. 465, 479; Nashville etc. Ry. v. Alabama (1888) 128 U. S. 96, 99; and the minority argued that the purpose of the Act indicated its beneficial nature beyond the reach of judicial determination. But a court may not decline to investigate the real character of a statute because of its nominal purpose and the confidence of its framers. Lochner v. New York (I904) I98 U. S. 45, 64. And here it was forced to conclude that the Act was not in fact a regulation of interstate commerce.
doi:10.2307/1110055 fatcat:uce4dag7b5e3rnhmwfooc5llpy