BAILEY v. DREXEL FURNITURE CO.

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
657
Petitioner 
Bailey
Respondent 
Drexel Furniture Co.
Decided By 
Opinion 
Term:
Facts of the Case 

As an exercise of its taxing powers Congress enacted the Revenue Act of 1919, also called the Child Labor Tax Law. Under the law, companies employing children under fourteen years of age would be assessed ten percent of their annual profits. During the same year in which the act was passed, Drexel Furniture Company was found in violation of it and required to pay over $6000 in taxes, which it did under protest.

Question 

Did Congress violate the Constitution in adopting the Child Labor Tax Law in attempting to regulate the employment of children, a power reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment?

Conclusion 

Yes. The Court found that the Child Labor Tax Law was in violation of the Constitution as it intruded on the jurisdiction of states to adopt and enforce child labor codes. Chief Justice Taft argued that the tax law in question did much more than simply impose an "incidental restraint" but exerted a "prohibitory and regulatory effect" in a realm over which Congress had no jurisdiction. Taft feared that upholding this law would destroy state sovereignty and devastate "all constitutional limitation of the powers of Congress" by allowing it to disguise future regulatory legislation in the cloak of taxes.

Cite this Page
BAILEY v. DREXEL FURNITURE CO.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 13 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1921/1921_657>.
BAILEY v. DREXEL FURNITURE CO., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1921/1921_657 (last visited April 13, 2014).
"BAILEY v. DREXEL FURNITURE CO.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 13, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1921/1921_657.