Bailey v. Drexel Transcript of Record, December 21, 1921
In 1922 the Supreme Court decided another landmark case, Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Company. Drexel, a North Carolina manufacturer, paid more than $6,000 under the Child Labor Tax Law for employing a child but then sued for a refund. The court found the tax law unconstitutional, stating that Congress did not have the power to set standards for employment.
Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration
Is Child Labor Law Constitutional?
It took Congress and the Supreme Court decades to agree that federal regulation of child labor was constitutional. Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana introduced the first federal child-labor bill in 1906. That bill failed, but Congress passed subsequent bills in 1916 and 1919, only to see them struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Finally, in 1941, the Supreme Court reversed its earlier opinions, recognizing Congress’s power to regulate child labor as stipulated in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.
Congress and the Supreme Court have interpreted the Constitution differently on some issues. Through opposing laws and legal decisions spanning a quarter century, the two branches eventually agreed that legislation regulating child labor is constitutional.