Bernstein, “Rehabilitating Lochner”

I haven’t had a chance yet to look through a copy of this new book (whose publication date is today) by George Mason lawprof and Volokh Conspiracy contributor David Bernstein. But it could be a landmark, to judge from the glowing blurbs from a distinguished and very ideologically diverse group of law professors and the excellent May 2 author forum at Cato (in which I turn up in the Q-&-A). Description via Cato:

No Supreme Court decision concerning economic liberty has been more emblematic of the alleged errors of the “old,” pre-New Deal Court than Lochner v. New York, decided in 1905. Upholding contractual freedom against a New York statute that limited the hours that bakers might work, the decision has been reviled by both liberals and conservatives as an egregious example of judicial malfeasance — cited today most often for the prescient dissent of the sainted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Yet the story of Lochner is not over. In a new book that examines the history and background of the case, David Bernstein argues that the decision has been widely misunderstood and unfairly maligned, that it was well grounded in precedent, and that subsequent battles over segregation laws, sex discrimination, civil liberties, and more owe much to the limited-government ideas of Lochner’s proponents.

The book’s available from Cato or the author. You can also read an author interview by Josh Blackman, as well as the book’s introduction on SSRN.

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