Kirschbaum v. Walling 316 U.S. 517 (1942)
KIRSCHBAUM v. WALLING 316 U.S. 517 (1942)
after united states v. darby (1941) the Court decided many cases on the coverage of the fair labor standards act, which benefited employees "engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce." Congress by no means had made the statute coextensive with the limits of its power over interstate commerce, but every time the Court ruled that the statute covered certain employees, it brought their activities within the scope of the commerce clause. The leading case is Kirschbaum, which extended statutory coverage—and thus the commerce power—to employees who were at least one step away from production. On the theory that service and maintenance employees kept a building safe and habitable, the Court held that a landlord who rented space to a firm that manufactured goods destined for interstate commerce had to pay his janitors and elevator operators the minima fixed by the statute. In Borden Milk Co. v. Barella (1945), the Court upheld application of the statute to service employees in a building occupied by the executive offices of a company that carried on its interstate manufacturing elsewhere. In Martino v. Michigan Window Cleaning Co. (1946), the employees who benefited from the statute—window cleaners employed by a company to service an industrial building—were two steps removed from production for commerce. Similarly, in D. A. Schulte v. Gangi (1946), the Court extended the statute and the commerce power to the maintenance people employed by a building owner who rented space to a firm that worked on intrastate goods and returned them to a contractor who subsequently shipped some of them across state lines. Employees sometimes did lose, but the Court's interpretations in these cases showed that the commerce power virtually authorized Congress to regulate any business, however remote its economic connection with interstate commerce.
Leonard W. Levy