Law Sample Paper


Preparing case briefs is a recognized way of learning legal principles. Using the research tools discussed in Chapter 3 of the Harris text, or the Lexis-Nexis database accessible through the library portal, or an internet search engine of your choice, find the cases of Jacobson v. Massachusetts 197 US 11 (1905) and Lochner v. New York 198 US 45 (1905). Then brief each case according to the outline in this Case Briefs attachment. 

**Both studies can be found via Google
Discipline: Healthcare Law 


Case Briefs: Jacobson v. Massachusetts and Lochner v. New York


Introduction. 1

Jacobson v. Massachusetts. 1

Lochner v. New York. 2


Jacobson v. Massachusetts

CITATION.  197 U.S. 11 (1905).

NATURE OF CASE: The plaintiff alleged that a state statute requiring vaccination against smallpox was in violation of his constitutional right. Civil proceedings commenced in which the plaintiff sought to be excluded from an ongoing vaccination program.


FACTS: Cities in Massachusetts were subject to a law requiring that all residents be subjected to a vaccination program. The city of Cambridge adopted this type of public health regulation.

ISSUE: As part of efforts to protect public health, does the scope of police power in the state of Massachusetts include exercising authority through the enactment of reasonable regulations to achieve this goal?

HOLDING: (Justice John Marshall Harlan) Yes. In order to ensure that public health is protected, the scope of police power in the state includes exercising authority through the enactment of reasonable regulations to achieve the stipulated goal. The Constitution secures every person’s liberty within its jurisdiction. However, it does not guarantee absolute right for each individual to be free of regulatory restraint all the time and in all circumstances. For the common good to be achieved, every individual should be subjected to certain restraint. Cambridge’s decision to eradicate smallpox is substantially related to efforts to protect public health and safety. There is no clear justification for the Court to declare the statute unconstitutional. Affirmed.

RATIONALE: The Court argued that no liberty interest can be claimed to exist in conduct that potentially puts other people at risk of a public health disaster.

Lochner v. New York

CITATION: 198US 45 (1905)

NATURE OF CASE: In this civil proceeding, the plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of a New York labor law prohibiting employees from working more than sixty hours per week.


 FACTS: In 1897, the state of New York passed a labor law that required employees of bread, biscuit, confectionary, and bakery companies to work no more than sixty hours in one week or an average of 10 hours per day. The only condition under which the 10-hour requirement would be extended was in terms of plans aimed at making the last workday of the week correspondingly shorter. Lochner was convicted of the offense of permitting an employee to work for over sixty hours in his bakery. He appealed to have the conviction reversed based on the argument that the law was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and, by extension, his freedom to contract.

ISSUE:  Do the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect liberty of contracts and citizens’ private property against unwarranted interference by government?

HOLDING:  (Justice Peckham). Yes. This labor law abridges the liberty of contract and also violates due process. The right of an individual to make a contract relating to his/her business is part of the individual’s liberty, and this protection is provided for in the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the Constitution, No state can deprive an individual of his life, property, or liberty without due process of law. An integral part of this liberty includes the right to sell or purchase labor. A state can only counter this right in the exercise of valid police power through regulation, and those powers should related to health, safety, public welfare, and morals. Reversed.

RATIONALE: The court rejected the justification of the labor law on grounds of police power because of the absence of valid grounds (health, safety, public welfare, and morals) on which it was being exercised. Firstly, the legislation was designed to regulate labor conditions instead of protecting workers. Thus, it does not address the issue of protecting public welfare. Secondly, no valid public safety and health rationale was provided in this case since bakers were not subjected to dangers like miners were in Holden v. Hardy.

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