History Exam on Civil Rights in 20th Century

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Stephanie Siv
4/20/2013
Take Home Test #2
Professor Carroll
Laissez Faire constitutionalism was a judicial philosophy that the government cannot and should not regulate the economy. Under this belief the people who were supporters of Laissez Faire constitutionalism supported the idea that the government and the United States as a whole society would benefit the most if its people were free to maximize and control their own business’s and economic decisions. The Supreme Court employed laissez faire constitutionalism in the late 1800s by making sure that the court itself ruled for laissez faire constitutionalism jurisprudence in court cases such as Plessy v Ferguson, and Lochner v New York. The governments only role in laissez faire constitutionalism was protecting the right of the people to bargain freely. Given this the Supreme Court decisions mirrored legislation and made it illegal prevent a company to prevent another company from entering a business or two businesses conspiring to control a whole supply of a certain good. In the late 1880s the Supreme Court judges and many others as well issued labor injunctions which was a way to try to prevent labor workers from striking. These labor injunctions made it illegal for these strikers to interfere with new workers taking their jobs, or blocking the entrances to their work place. The court also decided that freedom of contract could be limited when government had compelling reasons. The court decided that “police power” needed to be established to regulate private property to protect citizens and that it was for the public’s safety and health and that in certain cases the government and police can interfere with property rights if it is within these limits. Other legal devices the Supreme Court used to suppress labor were trespass, vagrancy, obstruction of traffic, disturbing the peace, and conspiracy laws. They also used yellow dog contracts which employers used and they would force an employee to sign saying that you would under no circumstances join the union. In Lochner v New York (1905) the court decided that limiting the hours worked by bakers was in no way related to health or safety and so it was an interference with liberty of contract. In Holden v Hardy (1898) Supreme Court agreed that the law limiting working hours of coal miners was constitutional because this profession was indeed known to be dangerous. What is known as the Progressive era then came along in the early 1900s and the government and people slowly but surely began rejecting the views of laissez faire constitutionalism. Housing became more affordable, sanitation become more important with cleaner parks and water, and social Darwinism started to become rejected as well. Businesses began consolidating production and transportation, creating huge corporations with a lot of economic power, also while decreasing the competition. Farmers and workers formed labor unions and agricultural partnerships. The term “liberty of contract” emerged and essentially meant that businesses could make contracts with their employees without government restrictions. The 16th-19th amendments were all passed during the Progressive era which made income taxes legal, the people got to vote in senators from now on, the 18th amendment created prohibition, and finally the 19th amendment finally gave women the right to vote. In this era the Hepburn act, Federal reserve act were both passed which strengthened interstate commerce, and finally allowed the government to regulate banking. The Progressive era also allowed women to join the work force and this was because of its emphasis on general welfare. Laissez- Faire constitutionalism was thought to be the cause of the Great Depression and why most people ended up rejecting it.

Eventually what is known as the New Deal Era arrived which built programs to employ people and build an infrastructure, and give emergency relief to people. People came to see that the government...
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