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A Reevaluation of the New York Court of Appeals: The Home, the Market, and Labor, 1885-1905

  • Felice Batlan

Abstract

Closely examining a range of New York Court of Appeals police-power cases during the period 1885 to 1905, this article demonstrates that the New York Court had a long history of accepting and continually expanding the police power. In these police-power cases, one finds the court grappling with an evolving sense of how to balance the concept of and need for a well-regulated society against the rights of an individual in an increasingly complex and interconnected world, as well as a tenacious refusal to abandon Victorian bourgeois norms regarding the dichotomy between the home and workplace. By contextualizing and historicizing New York Court of Appeals cases, the article challenges the dominant historiographical interpretations about late-nineteenth-century law. Moving away from a paradigm that labels the court conservative or liberal, formalist or realist, it argues that the court participated in creating a regulatory state while also employing a reasoning that adopted a sharp distinction between the market and the site of the domestic.

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