Tort Law for Federalists (and the Rest of Us): Private Law in Disguise

20 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2004


This essay argues in favor of understanding tort law as a law of private redress, rather than public regulatory law. Part I uses the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision on punitive damages in State Farm Mut. Ins. Co. v. Campbell to demonstrate some of the weaknesses of public law conceptions of tort, and some of the strengths of a private law conception. Part II maintains that a private law model need not be associated with formalist reasoning, an elevation of common law over statute, or political conservatism.

Keywords: torts, private law, common law, redress, public law, damages, punitive damages, formalism, Federalists, Supreme Court, pragmatic conceptualism

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, John C. P., Tort Law for Federalists (and the Rest of Us): Private Law in Disguise. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 28, 2004. Available at SSRN:

John C. P. Goldberg (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Areeda 232
1545 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2086 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics