Constitution

The Battle for the Supreme Court

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Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court by Damon Root (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 274 pages. Every case that comes before the U.S. Supreme Court has its unique factual setting and contentious legal issues, but in a large percentage of them, the decision ultimately comes down to this: Should the Court defer to the legislative ... [click for more]

The Landmark Case That Destroyed Economic Liberty

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If the Supreme Court’s 1905 holding in Lochner v. New York is the widely reviled embodiment of the constitutional right to freedom of contract, then West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish is its celebrated antithesis. The New Deal era case has been identified with the beginning of a “Constitutional Revolution” that freed progressive social policy to march triumphantly onward. ... [click for more]

‘We the Prisoners’: The Demise of the Fourth Amendment

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“Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens… When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state—the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates—reactions vary. Some experience an intense sickening feeling. Others, a strong desire ... [click for more]

It’s Not Just the Unborn Being Denied Rights Under the Constitution

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“The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”—Hillary Clinton, Meet the Press (April 3, 2016) When presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declares that unborn babies do not have constitutional rights, she’s not just spouting partisan rhetoric in the heated national debate over abortion. She’s providing us with a glimpse into an increasingly troubling mindset among government officials who ... [click for more]

Securing the Blessings of Liberty

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The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty by Timothy Sandefur (Cato Institute, 2014), 200 pages. In his book The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, Timothy Sandefur, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, argues that “the primacy ... [click for more]

The Resurgence of Lochner

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Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform by David E. Bernstein (University of Chicago Press, 2012), 208 pages. David Bernstein begins his short book, Rehabilitating Lochner, by noting that “Lochner is likely the most disreputable case in modern constitutional discourse.” If you want to raise eyebrows in legal circles, he says, simply embark on ... [click for more]

Supreme Demolition for the Raisin Racket

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The December 2013 Future of Freedom contained my article “A Supreme Rebuff for USDA’s Ruinous Raisin Regime.” The legal case surrounding that controversy kept percolating in the courts for another 18 months. The Obama administration won a big victory in federal appeals court last year before getting squashed by the Supreme Court this past June. The Supremes put an ... [click for more]

When the Supreme Court Stopped Economic Fascism in America

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There was a time when the Supreme Court of the United States defended and upheld the constitutional protections for economic liberty in America. This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the Supreme Court’s finest hours, when it overturned Franklin Roosevelt’s agenda for economic fascism in the United States. The trend towards bigger and ever-more-intrusive government, unfortunately, was not ... [click for more]

The Supreme Court’s Dreadful Record on Freedom

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The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the legality of the Affordable Care Act this past March. Several justices questioned whether a ruling against Obamacare would be “unconstitutionally coercive” to state governments that did not create health-care exchanges. The Supreme Court is sometimes hypersensitive about the authority of state governments when federalism issues are raised. But at the same ... [click for more]

Uniting Constitutional Protection for Economic and Social Liberties, Part 3: Can the Ninth Amendment Save Us?

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In part 2 of this series (December), I argued that unenumerated noneconomic rights such as those of parents or the right to marry are generally considered “fundamental rights” under the approach libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett labels “Footnote Four-Plus.” That is, the rights of parents are nowhere enumerated in the Constitution including the Bill of Rights, but are nonetheless ... [click for more]

Uniting Constitutional Protection for Economic and Social Liberties, Part 2: The Great Depression and the Great Divide

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 In part 1, I traced the evolution of “substantive due process” jurisprudence under which the Supreme Court protected a variety of unenumerated rights, both economic and personal, through the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Many of the unenumerated rights that had been protected ... [click for more]
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