Athletic Club of Columbus
136 East Broad Street
David N. Mayer
- Professor David N. Mayer, Capital University
Alarmed by the explosive growth of government, many Americans are more interested than ever in the U.S. Constitution and the limits it places on state power. In his new book, Liberty of Contract: Rediscovering a Lost Constitutional Right, Professor David Mayer illuminates one key limit on government: the right of individuals to enter into contracts with one other. The U.S. Supreme Court protected this right in the early 20th century during the so-called “Lochner era,” which saw the Court strike down laws that interfered with the freedom of people to bargain over the terms of their own contracts, including minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, housing-segregation laws, licensing laws, and laws interfering with the freedom of parents to determine what kind of schooling their children receive. Then, during the New Deal era, the Court abandoned its protection of these economic and personal liberties, which has contributed significantly to the growth of the nation’s regulatory and welfare state in recent decades.
Was the Lochner-era Court “activist” for upholding this right? Should the Court recognize it and enforce it again?
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