In 1903 AD Oregon enacted a law which restricted ladies or women from working more
10 hours per day .Curt Muller the owner the of Grand Laundry was arrested and charged for
breaking Oregon law by forcing a female employee Emma Gotcher unionist and wife of a leader
of the Shirtwaist and Laundry workers` Union to work for more than 10 hours per day against
the law which was set by State. He was found guilty and fined $10 which forced him make
appeal to the Supreme Court of Oregon which affirmed that conviction forcing Muller to present
his case before the Supreme Court of United States of America
By a 9-0 vote, the United State Supreme Court`s decision favored Oregon law and the
judgment of the Supreme Court of Oregon. That judgment was made by the following Justices:
Melville Fuller, John M. Harlan, David J. Brewer, Edward D. White, Rufus W. Pecham, Joseph
McKenna, Oliver W. Holmes Jr, William R. Day, and William H. Moody. It was one of
important case since it penetrated up to the United States Supreme Court due to the facts which
were been discussed, the constitutional principles, the court`s decision, and the impact on society
as it triggered the debate of equality between men and women.
Justice David Brewer pointed out that State is able to limit on individuals rights
without it coming in contact with the 14 th Amendment. He stated that each sex should have its
own set of rules. Basically stating that men are inferior to women. Muller`s attorney for appeal
was William Fenton, while presenting his case, he emphasized that women as law abiding
citizens, have same rights and privileges as men, meaning they have freedom to make bargains
and to contract as they wish. While his aim was to stop state from controlling any economic
Muller v. Oregon
activity, it also stressed the sentiment of feminists the likes of Clara Colby who wrote in her
Woman`s Tribune “the state has no right to lay any disability upon woman as individual”
Several reform advocates the likes of Florence Kelley agrees with that fact that protection of
women would open the door for greater protection of state workers. Samuel Gompers the leader
of America Federation used the same ruling to press for working hours for men and pushed for
better payment for all men in what he called `living wages` which could enable families to
survive without expecting any wages from women.
As we conclude, all workers today enjoy many privileges in form of; minimum wages,
payment of overtimes, enforced break times, provision of personal protective clothes (P.P.Es),
pensions and many more all which came after that landmark rulings. I would support the ruling
which was made by the Supreme Court of United States.
Muller v. Oregon
Brianna McKnigh Prezi 3/26/2014
David E. Bernstein, Lochner`s Femist Legacy,101 MICH.L.REV.1960(2003).
Erickson, Nancy S. “Muller v. Oregon Reconsidered: The Origins of a Sex-Based Doctrine of
Liberty of Contract. “Labor History 30(1989), 228-50
Hart, Vivien. Bound by our Constitution: Women, Workers, and the Minimum Wage. Princeton,
N.J.; Princeton University.