Muller v. Oregon case was a highlight in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court because it justified both gender discrimination and the use of labor laws regarding the time spent on work. Despite the fact that the court encouraged the value of the health and welfare of women, it failed to adhere to its policy.
Сurt Muller, the owner of a laundry business, was convicted of violating Oregon labor laws by making a female employee work more than ten hours on a single day. The statute that prohibited women from working more than ten hours a day was passed in 1903 by the State of Oregon. Muller was initially fined 10 dollars because of infringement of the labor law. Muller appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court to the chief justice, both of which upheld the constitutionality of labor law and confirmed his conviction. In Muller v. Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court supported the legislation that led to inequality in the workplace for years.
The effects of Muller v. Oregon judgment, which had the character of a precedent, was immediate and lasting. In the history of the working class in the U.S., Muller made a reformist attempt to provide more humane working conditions for everyone who appeared to be at a standstill. However, the law made it impossible for women to compete with men in hiring for jobs that would provide women a good standard of living. The Muller v. Oregon decision reflected the belief that there is a fundamental issue in the protection of women’s rights in America. The court decision had split the women’s rights movement over the question of whether it is fair to emphasize women’s biological differences.
In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the Oregon law, justifying its decision based on biological differences that women have, and they should belong to a specific category. The Supreme court made an argument that due to a physical state of females and the necessity to execute the function of motherhood, women become disadvantaged in the struggle for existence. Judges emphasized that the childhood that women are burdened with makes it difficult for them to work at the same level as men. Moreover, the court stated that a long daily stay at work without the opportunity to sit down leads to disastrous consequences for the women’s body. It was claimed that since healthy mothers are necessary for a vigorous offspring, the physical well-being of women becomes the object of public attention, and the court aims to preserve the health of people.
Muller v. Oregon case was historically important because it showed flaws in legislation and highlighted the inevitability to change the perception that a woman is depended on a man. Nevertheless, for tens of years, different courts had rejected almost every claim of gender discrimination based on a binding precedent of Muller v. Oregon case. At the end of this long period, many laws denying women’s right to vote were finally declared unconstitutional. Muller v. Oregon case was finally overturned only in 1971 in the case of Reed v. Reed when the authorities mitigated sex-based discrimination.