The Waite Court (1874–88)


Why did Justices Field and Strong dissent?

Justices Stephen Field and William Strong dissented in an opinion authored by Field. He questioned vigorously the majority’s conclusion that the Illinois statute did not violate the due process rights of the company who had their property interest impacted by the legislation. He wrote in oft-cited language: “If this be sound law, if there be no protection, either in the principles upon which our republican government is founded, or in the prohibitions of the Constitution against such invasion of private rights, all property and all business in the State are held at the mercy of a majority of its legislature.”


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