The 'Necessary' History of Property and Liberty
48 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2003
The constitution contains many disparate structural provisions and guarantees of individual rights: federalism questions under the commerce clause start in very different places from the protection of speech, religion or property. Yet the differences are often misleading. In each case the structure of the argument is identical: what is the basic interest that is protected, what justifications can be posed for its limitation, with or without compensation. Where an intermediate or strict standard of review is proposed, the nature of these inquiries all collapse to the single question of whether government intervention overcomes some market imperfection relating to negative externalities (force and fraud) or monopoly and coordination problems. Where the standard of review is reduced to rational basis, then the structure of basic rights and the justifications for their restriction becomes ill-formed and ad hoc. The conceptual defense of the Lochner era is much stronger on structural grounds than its manifold critics commonly suppose.
Keywords: U.S. constitution, individual rights
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