Constitutional Economics: Lochner, Labor, and the Battle for Liberty
28 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 1 (2017)
50 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2016 Last revised: 15 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 20, 2016
This Article argues that the conventional narrative about the decline of Lochnerism and the rise of mid-century substantive due process jurisprudence is incomplete. That narrative focuses initially on how the premises underlying Lochner’s conception of economic freedom were rejected. The Article instead focuses on how the labor movement articulated an alternative conception of freedom that was adopted by Congress, the Executive, and the Supreme Court. While Lochnerism was premised on a negative view of freedom, the labor movement articulated a positive view of freedom and analogized it to republican freedom of association in the political sphere. By reframing the terms of the Lochner-labor debate, the Article shows how strands of labor’s conception of associational freedom in one nominally private sphere — the workplace — are transported into modern substantive due process jurisprudence in the post-Griswold era as the doctrine protects association in another — the intimate sphere. The Article traces similarities between the rise of labor’s freedom and the rise of sexual and intimate freedoms and explores the ways in which they have transformed American constitutional law.
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