OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
FILED MARCH 18, 1895.
RITCHIE VS. THE PEOPLE
The present prosecution,
as is conceded by counsel for both sides, is for an alleged violation
of section 5 of said act.В That section is as follows:
female shall be employed in any factory or workshop more than eight
hours in any one day, or forty-eight hours in any one week."
is contended by counsel for plaintiff in error, that that section is
unconstitutional, as imposing unwarranted restrictions upon the right
to contract.В On the other hand, it is claimed by counsel for The People,
that the section is a sanitary provision, and justifiable as an exercise
of the police power of the State.
the restruction thus imposed an infringement upon the constitutional
rights of the manufacturer and the employee? . . . .
is not the nature of the things done, but the sex of the person doing
them, which is made the basis of the claim that the act is a measure
for the promotion of the public health. It is sought to sustain the
act as an exercise of the police power upon the alleged ground that
it is designed to protect woman on account of her sex and physique.В
It will not be denied that woman is entitled to the same rights, under
the Constitution, to make contracts with reference to her labor as are
secured thereby to men.
a citizen, woman has the right to acquire and possess property of every
kind . . . . Involved in these rights thus guaranteed to her is the right
to make and enforce contracts . . . . There is no reasonable ground--at
least none which has been made manifest to us in the arguments of counsel--for
fixing upon eight hours in one day as the limit within which woman can
work without injury to her physique, and beyond which if she work, injury
will necessarily follow.
conclusion is, that section 5 of the act of 1893 and the first clause
of section 10 thereof are void and unconstitutional for the reasons here