In 1936, Elsie Parrish and her husband sued the hotel where she worked, alleging that they had violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause by paying her less than the state-mandated minimum wage for women.

Can states use their police powers to restrict the individual’s right to contract? Prof. David Bernstein of Antonin Scalia Law School discusses minimum wage laws and the demise of the right to contract in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish.


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Learn more about David Bernstein:

Follow David Bernstein on Twitter: @ProfDBernstein


Related Links & Differing Views:

The Yale Law Journal: West Coast Hotel’s Place in American Constitutional History

Journal of Supreme Court History: “‘Omak’s Minimum Pay Law Joan D’Arc’: Telling the Local Story of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937)”

The Supreme Court Review: “Inside the ‘Constitutional Revolution’ of 1937”

Indiana Law Journal: “The Washington Minimum Wage Decision”

The Volokh Conspiracy: “The Significance of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish: Originalism vs. Living Constitutionalism?”