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Coppage v. Kansas


COPPAGE V. KANSAS, 236 U.S. 1 (1915). By 1915 thirteen states had enacted laws prohibiting an employer from requiring its workers to sign contracts not to affiliate with unions. In Coppage v. Kansas the Supreme Court overturned these pro-union laws by invoking the freedom-of-contract doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court also reaffirmed the right of employees to sell their labor on their own terms, holding that the ruling in Adair v. United States (1908)—that employers could discharge workers because of their affiliation with unions—illegally implied the right to insist upon nonunion pledges as a condition of employment.


Forbath, William E. Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Tomlins, Christopher L. The State and the Unions: Labor Relations, the Law, and the Organized Labor Movement in America, 1880–1960. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Royal E.Montgomery/a. r.

See alsoContract Clause ; Labor ; Right-to-Work Laws ; Strikes ; Yellow-Dog Contract .

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