Economic Freedoms and the Constitution
Since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish and the end of the Lochner Era, the Supreme Court has adhered to the belief that “[t]he Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract.” But is this commitment consistent with an original understanding of the Constitution? This panel will address whether the Constitution permits the extensive state regulation of economic affairs. Even if Lochner as a decision was illegitimate, has the Supreme Court retreated too far in protecting economic liberties from state interference? Is the Constitution a thoroughly libertarian document or is it compatible with a high degree of state regulation? Does either understanding come with any limiting principles? If so, what is their source? In any event, is it desirable for a constitution to constrain the power of the state in the area of redistribution and economic regulation?
Randy Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center
Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School
Judge Debra Livingston, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals