Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty(rafflaw), Guest Blogger
We have seen and heard on many occasions the Tea Party claim that it desires Congress and the Federal Government to follow the letter of the Constitution instead of reaching beyond the four corners of the document. With that thought in mind, I was intrigued by a recent article on the Think Progress site that reviewed the You Tube video claims made by U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, that Congress’ passage of laws outlawing and restricting Child Labor, was unconstitutional. http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/14/lee-child-labor/?wpmp_switcher=desktop
Now, I know that the Tea Party has sometimes gotten a bad reputation for making silly claims under the Tenth Amendment. Those claims actually spurred a new term or title, “Tenther”. But, I have to admit that Senator Lee has really gone way beyond the Tenther label with this false claim about the constitutionality of the child labor laws within the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Here is a link to a brief description of how the FLSA deals with child labor and the act itself: http://www.stopchildlabor.org/USchildlabor/fact1.htm & http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/FairLaborStandAct.pdf
Senator Lee discusses his outrageous claim in a YouTube presentation that attempts to use the 1918 Supreme Court case of Hammer v. Dagenhart as his evidence that Congress has gone too far. Unfortunately for Senator Lee, the Hammer case was specifically overruled in 1941 by a unanimous Supreme Court in 1941 in U.S. v. Darby. http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1183543472021488573&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr I guess Senator Lee didn’t want to let minor details get in the way of “proving” his claim. The part that I just don’t understand about Senator Lee is why does he want to return to the day when children were forced to work at too early of an age and under horrible conditions? From what I can tell from his video lectures which are found in the aforementioned Think Progress link, he claims that the State should be making those decisions and not the Federal Government or Judiciary. Why would he make those claims and not tell the listener that the case he is citing was overruled over 60 years ago? What other laws would be unconstitutional in his world?
Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw) Guest Blogger.