The Taft Court (1921–30)


In what decision did the Taft Court invalidate a federal child labor tax law?

The Taft Court ruled 8–1 in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. (1923) that the federal Child Labor Tax Law, which imposed a 10 percent penalty tax on businesses that employed children, invaded the powers of the state in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Drexel Furniture, a North Carolina furniture store, was cited for violating the law because it employed a 14-year-old boy. The government argued that it had broad taxation powers under the Constitution, but the Court responded: “To give such magic to the word ‘tax’ would be to break down all constitutional limitations of the power of Congress and completely wipe out the sovereignty of the states.”


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