In re Debs

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In re Debs
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 25–26, 1895
Decided May 27, 1895
Full case name In re Eugene V. Debs, Petitioner
Citations 158 U.S. 564 (more)
15 S. Ct. 900; 39 L. Ed. 1092; 1895 U.S. LEXIS 2279
Holding
The court ruled that the government had a right to regulate interstate commerce and ensure the operations of the Postal Service, along with a responsibility to "ensure the general welfare of the public."
Court membership
Chief Justice
Melville Fuller
Associate Justices
Stephen J. Field · John M. Harlan
Horace Gray · David J. Brewer
Henry B. Brown · George Shiras Jr.
Howell E. Jackson · Edward D. White
Case opinions
Majority Brewer, joined unanimously
Laws applied
U.S. Const.

In re Debs, 158 US 564 (1895) was a US labor law case of the United States Supreme Court decision handed down concerning Eugene V. Debs and labor unions.

Background[edit]

Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, had been involved in the Pullman Strike earlier in 1894 and challenged the federal injunction ordering the strikers back to work where they would face being fired. The injunction had been issued because of the violent nature of the strike. However, Debs refused to end the strike and was subsequently cited for contempt of court; he appealed the decision to the courts.

The main question being debated was whether the federal government had a right to issue the injunction, which dealt with both interstate and intrastate commerce and shipping on rail cars.

Judgment[edit]

Brewer J for a unanimous court held that the U.S. government had a right to regulate interstate commerce and ensure the operations of the Postal Service, along with a responsibility to "ensure the general welfare of the public." Brewer J said the following in summing up the judgment:

Significance[edit]

In Lawlor v Loewe the Supreme Court stated that unions were in fact potentially liable for antitrust violations. In response Congress passed the Clayton Act of 1914 to take unions out of antitrust law. Debs would go on to lose another Supreme Court case in Debs v. United States.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ n.b. This is the US Strike Commission, Report on the Chicago Strike of June-July 1894 (GPO 1895) 143-144, §78

References[edit]

  • Papke, David Ray. (1999) The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas ISBN 0-7006-0954-7

External links[edit]