The Classical Limits to Police Power: Adam Smith and the Economic Foundations of the Slaughterhouse Dissents

30 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2016

See all articles by Nicola Giocoli

Nicola Giocoli

University of Pisa - Department of Law

Date Written: March 5, 2016

Abstract

The paper examines the influence of classical economics on an important episode in the American 19th-century jurisprudence on business regulation, the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873. Law historians know well that the dissents penned in that occasion by Supreme Court Justices Field and Bradley lay down the fundamental doctrines of the later Lochner era of laissez faire constitutionalism. The paper argues that these dissents were inspired by Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty and, in particular, by his views about the regulation of negative externalities and the undesirability of government-granted monopolies. The Smithian influence emerges even more clearly when the outstanding briefs presented by counsel for the plaintiffs John A. Campbell are also taken into account.

Keywords: Classical economics, Adam Smith, American legal history, American constitutional law, Slaughterhouse Cases, Lochner era

JEL Classification: B12, K00

Suggested Citation

Giocoli, Nicola, The Classical Limits to Police Power: Adam Smith and the Economic Foundations of the Slaughterhouse Dissents (March 5, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2742517 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2742517

Nicola Giocoli (Contact Author)

University of Pisa - Department of Law ( email )

via Collegio Ricci 10
Pisa PI, 56126
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://pisa.academia.edu/NicolaGiocoli

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