The Federalist Society

Economic Freedoms and the Constitution - Event Audio/Video

2011 Annual Student Symposium

February 25, 2011

Ben Massey, Lillian R. BeVier, Randy E. Barnett, Jeffrey Rosen, Debra Ann Livingston, Devin DeBacker

The following audio was recorded on February 25, 2011.


Economic Freedoms and the Constitution 2-25-11
Running Time: 01:23:28
[audio Full Audio]
[video Video on YouTube]

6:15 p.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Mr. Ben Massey, President, University of Virginia Federalist Society
  • Prof. Lillian BeVier, University of Virginia School of Law

6:30 p.m.
Debate: Economic Freedoms and the Constitution

Since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish and the end of the Lochner Era, the Supreme Court has adhered to the belief that “[t]he Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract.”  But is this commitment consistent with an original understanding of the Constitution? This panel will address whether the Constitution permits the extensive state regulation of economic affairs. Even if Lochner as a decision was illegitimate, has the Supreme Court retreated too far in protecting economic liberties from state interference? Is the Constitution a thoroughly libertarian document or is it compatible with a high degree of state regulation? Does either understanding come with any limiting principles? If so, what is their source? In any event, is it desirable for a constitution to constrain the power of the state in the area of redistribution and economic regulation?

  • Prof. Randy Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center 
  • Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, The George Washington University Law School
  • Moderator: Judge Debra Ann Livingston, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. Devin DeBacker, Speakers and Panels Vice Chair, University of Virginia Federalist Society

University of Virginia School of Law
Charlottesville, VA

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Related Links

Virginia Student Chapter

The Federalist Society