BUNTING V. OREGON, 243 U. S. 426 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bunting v. Oregon, 243 U.S. 426 (1917)

Bunting v. Oregon

No. 38

Argued April 18, 1916

Restored to docket for reargument June 12, 1916

Reargued January 19, 1917

Decided April 9, 1917

243 U.S. 426


Section 2 of the General Laws of Oregon, 1913, c. 102, p. 169, providing that

"[n]o person shall be employed in any mill, factory or manufacturing establishment in this state more than ten hours in any one day, except watchmen and employees when engaged in making necessary repairs, or in case of emergency, where life or property is in imminent danger; provided, however, employees may work overtime not to exceed three hours in any one day, conditioned that payment be made for said overtime at the rate of time and one-half of the regular wage,"

is construed as in purpose an hours of service law, and as such is upheld as a valid health regulation.

Whether the law could be upheld as a regulation of wages is not considered or decided.

While mere legislative declaration cannot give character to a law or turn illegal into legal operation, the court will not ascribe to the legislature an intent to disguise an illegal purpose or the improvidence of effecting one thing while intending another when, as in this case, the purpose as declared in the act (§ 1) and confirmed by the state court is legal and the provisions of the act can be accommodated to it.

The provision for overtime and extra pay is in nature a penalty to deter from excess of the ten-hour limit.

In sustaining a state law passed in the exercise of an admitted power

Page 243 U. S. 427

of government, the court need not be sure of the precise reasons for means adopted by the legislature, nor may it pass upon their adequacy or wisdom.

Upon the question whether a ten-hour law is necessary or useful for the preservation of the health of employees in "mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments," the court may accept the judgment of the state legislature and state supreme court when the record contains no fact to support the contrary contention.

The Oregon law, supra, in limiting the hours of employees in "mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments," does not unduly discriminate against their employers as compared with other employers not included in the classification.

71 Ore. 259 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 243 U. S. 433

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