Original Document
Original Document
Commonwealth vs. Pullis ruling against the Philadelphia Cordwainers, 1806.

Commonwealth vs. Pullis involved charges by the state of Pennsylvania alleging the negative impact of labor disputes on the community and the illegality of workers taking the law into their own hands, as expressed in following language by the presiding judge:

We live under a government composed of a constitution and laws...and every man is obliged to obey the constitution, and the laws made under it....Shall these, or any other, men associate for the purpose of making new laws, laws not made under the constitutional authority, and compel their fellow citizens to obey them, under the penalty of their existence?...If private associations and clubs can make constitutions and laws for us...if they can associate and make bye-laws paramount, or inconsistent with the state laws; what, I ask, becomes of the liberty of the people, about which so much is prated, about which the opening counsel made such a flourish?

Hence the decision against the cordwainers was as follows:
We cannot and we must not forget that the law of the land is the supreme, and only rule. We live in a country where the will of no individual ought to be, or is admitted, to be the rule of action....There is but one place to determine whether violations or abuses of law have been committed. It is in our courts of justice; and there only after proof to the fact: and consideration of principles of law connected with it.

Credit: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
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