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Economic Liberties Outline

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This is an extract of our Economic Liberties document, which we sell as part of our Constitutional Analysis Outlines collection written by the top tier of Harvard Law School students.

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Economic Liberties Substantive Due Process Calder v. Bull In Calder, the Court considered a Connecticut law that set aside the decision of a probate court that had denied inheritance to those designated as beneficiaries under a will. The Court rejected the contention that this amounted to an ex post facto law, holding that the ex post facto clause applied only to criminal law. But Chase, J., made clear that we would be willing in an appropriate to strike down similar legislation in the future, without regard to explicit constitutional limitations: I cannot subscribe to the omnipotence of a State Legislature, or that it is absolute and without control; although its authority should not be expressly restrained by the Constitution, or fundamental law of the State. *** An act of the legislature ... contrary to the great first principles of the social compact cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority. [For example,] a law that punished a citizen for an innocent action; a law that destroys, or impairs, the lawful private contracts of citizens; a law that makes a ma a Judge in his own cause; or a law that takes property from A and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it. Iredell, J., disagreed: If ... the Legislature of the Union [or a State] shall pass a law within the general scope of their constitutional power, the Court cannot pronounce it to be void, merely because it is, in their judgment, contrary to the principles of natural justice. The ideas of natural justice are regulated by no fixed standard; the ablest and purest men have differed on the subject ...
Lochner v. New York In Lochner, the Court declared unconstitutional a New York law that set the maximum hours that bakers could work. The Court held that the law did not serve a valid police purpose, and ran afoul of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it interfered with the freedom to contract. The Court's holding reflects the propositions, for which the case and the Lochner-era are famous for: (1) freedom to contract is a basic right protected under the due process clause; (2) the government can only interfere with freedom of contract to serve a valid police purpose: to protect the public safety, public health, or public morals; and (3) it is the Court's responsibility to carefully scrutinize legislation interfering with the freedom of contract to ensure that it serves a valid police purpose. The Court also emphasized the need to determine with a stated police purpose was pretextual: "It is impossible for us to shut our eyes to the fact that many laws of this character, while passed under what is claimed to be the police power for the purpose of protecting the public health or welfare are, in reality, passed for other

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