Elevating Competition: Classical Political Economy in Justice Peckham’s Jurisprudence

37 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017  

Nicola Giocoli

University of Pisa - Department of Law

Date Written: March 6, 2017

Abstract

The paper deals with the famous Lochner v. New York (1905) decision from the perspective of the history of economic thought. In Lochner the Supreme Court affirmed freedom of contract as a substantive constitutional right. It is argued that, in writing for the majority, Justice Rufus W. Peckham was heavily influenced by classical political economy. Not, however, in the trivial sense of endorsing pure laissez faire, but in the much deeper sense of applying Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations recipe for the building of a “system of natural liberty”, viz., a social order founded on justice, private property, and free competition. My interpretation is validated by looking at the economic content of Peckham’s jurisprudence as a judge in the New York Court of Appeals.

Keywords: Lochner v. New York; American Constitution; Adam Smith; Laissez-Faire; Classical Political Economy; Rufus W. Peckham

JEL Classification: B12; K20

Suggested Citation

Giocoli, Nicola, Elevating Competition: Classical Political Economy in Justice Peckham’s Jurisprudence (March 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928198

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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