The Fuller Court (1888–1910)


In what case did the U.S. Supreme Court sanction the use of injunctions against striking railroad workers?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in In Re Debs (1895) that famed labor organizer Eugene Debs could be cited for criminal contempt for refusing to obey a court injunction prohibiting the leading of a strike of Pullman railway cars and other railroads. “The strong arm of the National Government may be put forth to brush away all obstructions to the freedom of interstate commerce or the transportation of the mails,” wrote Justice David Brewer. “If the emergency arises, the army of the Nation, and all its militia, are at the service of the Nation to compel obedience to its laws.” The Court reasoned that the injunction was necessary to deal with the violence associated with the striking workers. Debs went to prison for six months and later became even better known as a Socialist Party candidate for president. He actually received more than one million votes in the 1912 and 1920 elections.


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