Muller v. Oregon

Fact Box

Muller v. Oregon
Petitioner: Muller
Respondent: Oregon

Decision: 9 votes for Oregon, 0 against
Facts of the Case 

Oregon enacted a law that limited women to ten hours of work in factories and laundries.


Does the Oregon law violate a woman's freedom of contract implicit in the liberty protected by due process of the Fourteenth Amendment?


There was no constitutional violation. The factory and laundry owners claimed that there was no reasonable connection between the law and public health, safety, or welfare. In a famous brief in defense of the Oregon law, attorney Louis Brandeis elaborately detailed expert reports on the harmful physical, economic and social effects of long working hours on women. Brewer's opinion was based on the proposition that physical and social differences between the sexes warranted a different rule respecting labor contracts. Theretofore, gender was not a basis for such distinctions. Brewer's opinion conveyed the accepted wisdom of the day: that women were unequal and inferior to men.


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