GOP senator: Federal Ban on Child Labor is Unconstitutional

From Raw Story:

Newly minted Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said in a lecture posted to his YouTube channel that Congressional laws banning child labor are forbidden by the US Constitution.

Lee, a fierce advocate for the Tenth Amendment who replaced longtime Republican incumbent Bob Bennett in the Senate this month, argued that only states have the constitutional authority to create such laws.


  1. Thank FSM there’s someone out there willing to take the heat off rand paul as craziest person ever elected to anything. Kentuckians such as myself can sleep easy for another night.

  2. There’s a deeper history and a larger agenda here you should appreciate. In Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251 (1918), the Supreme Court in fact invalidated federal child labor laws as violative of the Tenth Amendment. It was part of the “Lochner era” of conservative judicial activism. Hammer was in turn overruled by United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100 (1941), where Justice Holmes famously called the Tenth Amendment simply “a truism.” And that, frankly, makes sense: the Amendment states the structure of federal state power; it is not specific as to what rights the federal government supposedly lacks or what specific unique powers the states supposedly have. And the Congress’s power includes a “necessary and proper provision” in the Constitution, too; so the fact that a federal action is not specifically ennumerated does not make it per se invalid. This has been a thorn in the conservative craw for about 70 years. It is part of a larger agenda of limiting federal power and regulation — you know, the failed experiment of the Articles of Confederation and (indirectly) of typically Southern views of local sovereignty.

  3. My grandfather started in the coal mines in what would have been his fourth grade year. No class picture, no recess and for 6 days a week in winter, no daylight.

    Really, for full effect, Senator Lee should have donned Victorian garb and created a scene from Dickens announcing what should be done about waifs and orphans and what a burden they present to our fine society.

    1. My great-grandfather went into the mines immediately after 8th grade. He had a dozen younger siblings that had to be fed somehow. Actually, at the time when child labor laws were enacted, a lot of people, especially in Appalachia, thought it was a direct hit for America’s poor. “How can we feed our children?” the widows asked, seeming to forget that they were sending their children into the same dark hole that had swallowed their husbands already.

      (However, I also have to admit, I started working before I was legally of age to do so – after school, weekends, summers. I was paid cash and saved it all up to get a car later on)

  4. I’ll bet a lot of people right now are surprised to find out that they voted to roll back the 20th Century. Not as many as I would hope, though, I’m sure.

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