The court ruled that a state may encroach on freedom of contract where an Oregon statute barred women, members of a purported “weaker class” from working in factories or laundries for more than 10 hours a day. Court held that women needed special protection.
Holding: State had not exceeded its police power (1) The right to be free to K is a fundamental right…BUT (2) women are weaker, inferior creatures in need of the State’s protection (3) legitimate public interest in taking steps to promote women who can produce “vigorous offspring” (4) the influence of vigorous health upon the future well-being of the race is compromised when women have to work standing more than 10hrs/day. (5) women are not self-reliant, nor can they assert their full rights.
Policy: Broad 14th Amend rights superceded by strong countervailing State interests. Balancing.