The Employers’ Liability Cases: 1908

(US Supreme Court) The court heard together two appeals regarding the range of federal jurisdiction to legislate for the regulation of interstate commerce. The true construction of the federal statute whose constitutionality was in issue was controversial.
Held: (Majority) The statute was unconstitutional. White J said: ‘Of course, if it can be lawfully done, our duty is to construe the statute so as to render it constitutional. But this does not imply, if the text of an act is unambiguous, that it may be rewritten to accomplish that purpose. Equally clear is it, generally speaking, that where a statute contains provisions which are constitutional and ethers which are not, effect may be given to the legal provisions by separating them from the illegal. But this applies only to a case where the provisions are separable and not dependent one upon the other, and does not support the contention that that which is indivisible may be divided. Moreover, even in a case where legal provisions may be severed from those which are illegal, in order to save the rule applies only where is is plain that Congress would have enacted the legislation with the unconsitutional provisions eliminated. All these principles are so clearly settled as not to be open to controversy. They were all, after a full review of the authorities, restated and reapplied in a recent case. Illinois Central Railroad v. McKendree, 203 U.S. 514, and authorities cited there.’


White J


(1908) 207 US 463


CitedIllinois Central Railroad Co v McKendree 1906
(US Supreme Court) An order of the Secretary of Agriculture purporting to fix a quarantine line under the Cattle Contagious Disease Act (1903), which applied in terms to all shipments, whether interstate or intrastate, was void, notwithstanding that . .

Cited by:

CitedRex v Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, Ex parte Whybrow and Co 1910
The court considered the ability to sever void sections of statutes from other sections.
Held: Griffiths CJ said: ‘It is contended, on the authority of decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, which are entitled to the greatest . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Hutchinson; Director of Public Prosecutions v Smith HL 12-Jul-1990
Protesters objected that byelaws which had been made to prevent access to common land, namely Greenham Common were invalid.
Held: The byelaws did prejudice the rights of common. The House was concerned to clarify the test applicable when . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

International, Constitutional

Updated: 14 May 2022; Ref: scu.259759