Adkins v. Children's Hospital of D. C.

RESPONDENT: Children's Hospital of D. C.

DECIDED BY: Taft Court (1923-1925)

ARGUED: Mar 14, 1923
DECIDED: Apr 09, 1923

Facts of the case

In 1918 Congress upheld a normative act that determined the minimum wages for women and children in the State of Columbia.

Children`s Hospital filed a claim regarding that the mentioned requirement contradicted with Constitution. The plaintiff employed few women and paid them the salary less than minimum but as they have agreed before and following their signed labor contract. The main argument was that this legislation infringed the principle of contract liberty confirmed by the Fifth Amendment. The provision of last one empowered citizen to conclude agreements on the conditions they preferred but within the law.

The state district court refused in the lawsuit, but the appeal court canceled these rulings. Then the appellant brought the claim to the Supreme Court.

Deciding this case the judges in majority concluded that Congress had been not authorized to establish such rule regarding the wage for women and considered it as an infringement of Constitution. The case study explains that under judgment the person`s right to freedom of contract was not absolute and can be regulated by the government in some exceptions with the purpose to maintain social welfare. However, this principle didn`t extend on this issue.

Hence, according to the case brief, the court denied the state decisions and obligated Congress to change the appropriate normative act. But this order was revised and canceled after West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish in 1937 that proven such requirements for business contracts were constitutional and protected person`s right on the deserved reward for work.


Did the law interfere with the ability of employers and employees to enter into contracts with each other without assuring due process of law, a freedom guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment?