In re Debs
|In re Debs|
|Argued March 25–26, 1895
Decided May 27, 1895
|Full case name||In re Eugene V. Debs, Petitioner|
|Citations||158 U.S. 564 (more)
15 S. Ct. 900; 39 L. Ed. 1092; 1895 U.S. LEXIS 2279
|The court ruled that the government had a right to regulate interstate commerce and ensure the operations of the Postal Service, along with a responsibility to "ensure the general welfare of the public."|
|Majority||Brewer, joined by unanimous|
In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564 (1895), was a United States Supreme Court decision handed down concerning Eugene V. Debs and labor unions. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, had been involved in the Pullman Strike earlier in 1894 and challenged the federal injunction ordering the strikers back to work where they would face being fired. The injunction had been issued because of the violent nature of the strike. However, Debs refused to end the strike and was subsequently cited for contempt of court; he appealed the decision to the courts.
The main question being debated was whether the federal government had a right to issue the injunction, which dealt with both interstate and intrastate commerce and shipping on rail cars. With an opinion written by Justice David Josiah Brewer, the court ruled in a unanimous decision in favor of the U.S. government. Joined by Chief Justice Melville Fuller and Associate Justices Stephen Johnson Field, John Marshall Harlan, Horace Gray, Henry Billings Brown, George Shiras, Jr., Howell Edmunds Jackson, and Edward Douglass White, the court ruled that the government had a right to regulate interstate commerce and ensure the operations of the Postal Service, along with a responsibility to "ensure the general welfare of the public." The decision somewhat slowed the theretofore building momentum of labor unions, which had been making gains in government in respect to legislation, Supreme Court decisions, etc. Debs would go on to lose another Supreme Court case in Debs v. United States.
- Papke, David Ray. (1999) The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas ISBN 070060547
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