Enterprise Labor and the Developing Law of Employee Job Rights-Part Two

Michael C. McClintock, Enterprise Labor and the Developing Law of Employee Job Rights- Part Two, 8 Gonz. L. Rev. 217 (1973).


The Supreme Court, in the early landmark case of Dent v. West Virginia, knocked down a constitutional challenge to a law requiring state certification before the right to practice medicine was granted. The Court upheld reasonable certificate or licensing qualifications as a condition to entering professional practice. This was a valid exercise of the state’s police power and did not deny due process. Mr. Justice Field, who wrote the decision, made some rather interesting remarks concerning the legal characterization of a “profession.”  He said:

It is undoubtedly the right of every citizen of the United States to follow any lawful calling, business, or profession he may choose …. This right may in many respects be considered as a distinguishing feature of our republican institutions. Here all vocations are open to every one on like conditions. All may be pursued as sources of livelihood, some requiring years of study and great learning for their successful prosecution. The interest, or, as it is sometimes termed, the estate acquired in them, that is, the right to continue their prosecution, is often of great value to the possessors, and cannot be arbitrarily taken from them, any more than their real or personal property can thus be taken.

The Court under its own test found no arbitrary deprivation of an occupational interest. The state, in fact, to protect society had an overriding interest in setting reasonable admittance conditions . . . Read More.


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