Child Labor Tax Case

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CHILD LABOR TAX CASE (Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Company, 259 U.S. 20, 1922). Together with Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918), Bailey constituted a major setback to the development of federal economic regulatory power. Hammer prohibited interstate shipment of products made by child labor, while Bailey struck down a federal tax on profits from factories and mines employing children. Chief Justice William Howard Taft held that the tax threatened state sovereignty because it was for regulatory, not revenue, purposes. He ignored precedent (Veazie Bank v. Fenno, 1869; McCray v. United States, 1904) and improperly questioned congressional motivation. The Court abandoned Bailey first in Sonzinsky v. United States (1937) and then United States v. Kahriger (1953).


Wood, Stephen B. Constitutional Politics in the Progressive Era: Child Labor and the Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

William M.Wiecek

See alsoChild Labor ; Interstate Commerce Laws ; McCray v. United States ; State Sovereignty ; Veazie Bank v. Fenno .

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Child Labor Tax Case

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