Michael Duff, ‘How the US Supreme Court Deemed the Workers’ Compensation Grand Bargain ‘Adequate’ Without Defining Adequacy’

Abstract
During the second and third decades of the twentieth century, the US Supreme Court issued a handful of opinions rejecting 14th Amendment constitutional challenges by employers to implementation of workers’ compensation statutes in the United States. Unknown to many, the statutes were largely the fruit of privately-sponsored investigations, principally by the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Association of Manufacturers, of European workers’ compensation systems during the first decade of the twentieth century. Some of those systems had been in existence since the 1870s and 1880s, and many employers preferred them to newly-emerging American employer liability statutes that retained tort liability while eliminating many or all affirmative defenses. The Minnesota Employees’ Compensation Commission and the National Civic Federation (NCF) catalyzed the national conversation on workers’ compensation from 1909-1911, and it was an NCF lawyer who was substantially responsible for a draft that became the first workers’ compensation statute upheld by the US Supreme Court as constitutional …

Duff, Michael C, How the US Supreme Court Deemed the Workers’ Compensation Grand Bargain ‘Adequate’ Without Defining Adequacy (August 24, 2018). Tulsa Law Review, forthcoming.

Leave a Reply