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The case of United States v. Darby involved the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and whether Congress had the power to regulate the shipment of goods produced by employees who were paid less than a minimum wage or worked more than a maximum number of hours. The defendant was accused of violating the Act and challenged its validity, arguing that it was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. The district court quashed the indictment, but the case is now on direct appeal to the Supreme Court. The purpose of the Act is to prevent the shipment of certain products produced under labor conditions that do not meet the standards set by the Act and to establish an administrative procedure for modifying these standards. The government is appealing the district court decision, arguing that Congress has complete power over interstate commerce, including the power to prohibit it and exclude articles from it if they are harmful to public health, morals, or welfare. The decision in Hammer v. Dagenhart, which held that Congress lacked the power to exclude child labor products from interstate commerce, was in conflict with the Court's plenary power under the Commerce Clause. The federal government's authority over interstate commerce is not different from the states' authority over intrastate commerce.
The Hammer v. Dagenhart case is no longer valid. Congress has the power to regulate intrastate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce through appropriate legislation. Section 15(a)(2) of the Fair Labor Standards Act is valid and aims to suppress unfair competition in interstate commerce that spreads substandard labor conditions. The Tenth Amendment does not limit the national government's authority to use appropriate means to exercise a granted power. The minimum wage and overtime provisions of the law are valid under the Fifth Amendment and apply equally to both men and women. Employers who do not comply with the prescribed wage and hour conditions for goods shipped across state lines may face criminal penalties. The lower court's decision is reversed.
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