Coppage v. Kansas
236 U.S. 1 (1913)

  • Kansas had a State law making it a crime for a person or company to “coerce, require, demand, or influence any person not to join a union.”
    • The law was in response to the fact that a lot of business owners were requiring a promise not the join a union as a condition of employment.
  • Coppage broke the law and was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine. He appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court overturned the conviction and declared the law to be unconstitutional.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the law violated the freedom of contract as protected by the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment.
    • The Court reasoned that in a free society, people entering into contracts were free to bargain whatever they wanted. Since the employee was always free to decline the offer, the employer was within his rights to bargain for whatever conditions of employment they could both agree to.
  • This case was a follow-up to Adair v. United States (208 U.S. 161 (1908)), in which the Court had invalidated a similar Federal law.