The Lochner era is a period in American legal history in which the Supreme Court of the United States tended to strike down laws held to be infringing on economic liberty or private contract rights, and takes its name from a 1905 case, Lochner v. New York. The beginning of the period is usually marked earlier, with the Court's decision in Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897), and its end marked forty years later in the case of West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937), which overturned an earlier Lochner-era decision. The Lochner era coincided roughly with the Second Industrial Revolution.
The Supreme Court during the Lochner era has been described as "play a judicially activist but politically conservative role." The Court sometimes invalidated state and federal legislation that inhibited business or otherwise limited the free market, including laws on minimum wage, federal (but not state) child labor laws, regulations of banking, insurance and transportation industries. Originating in the late 19th century, the Lochner era carried into the mid-1930s, when the Court's tendency to invalidate labor and market regulations came into direct conflict with Congress' regulatory efforts in the New Deal.
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“The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)