In Muller v. Oregon (1907) the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law in Oregon limiting the number of hours for female laundry workers. Key to the Court’s decision was a legal brief written by the State of Oregon’s defense attorney, Louis D. Brandeis. (Brandeis later served on the Supreme Court, from 1916 to 1939).
Keep in mind that court cases are always italicized even if you use a shorter version. For example, people often refer to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka as Brown. Brown is still italicized, however.
In his brief, Brandeis collected and presented information from doctors, public health officials, and other so-called “experts,” on the dangers long working hours to women’s health and the public welfare. The use of such “extra-legal” data was unprecedented and reflective of a larger intellectual movement that sought to apply the principles of scientific inquiry to solve social problems. One result of this movement was the rise of “social science” as an academic and professional discipline.
1. Read the provided excerpt of the Brandeis Brief.
The Brandeis Brief.pdf
Answer the Following (remember that your original post only has to be 200 words, so you don’t have to go into great detail):
1. What are the extra-legal arguments presented in this brief in defense of the constitutionality of restricting the number of working hours for women?
2. According to the experts cited in this brief, why are long working hours particularly dangerous to women?
3. According to the experts cited in this brief, why are long working hours for women dangerous to the public welfare?
4. Based on what you have learned about the Progressive Era, is this brief and the Court’s decision examples of “enlightened social policy?” Why or why not?
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