In this brief Foreword to a forthcoming symposium on Lochner v. New York, Professor Randy Barnett asks the question, What's So Wicked About Lochner? Modern Progressives cannot complain about its protection of so-called substantive due process, since they favor just that. Nor can they claim that Lochner violates the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, since these legal analysts by and large reject originalism altogether. This leaves only today's judicial conservatives to adhere to a purified Roosevelt New Deal jurisprudence of disdain for Lochner.
The author answers that Lochner is objectionable precisely because its reliance on the Due Process Clause perpetuated the serious misinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment established by the 5-4 decision in the Slaughter-House Cases. While Lochner's use of a presumption in favor of the liberty of citizens is basically sound—however well it may have been applied in the actual case—its reliance on the Due Process Clause, rather than on the Privileges or Immunities Clause, undermined the legitimacy of its method. The author offers the outline of an approach to Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment that gives a distinct meaning to each of its four Constitution-altering clauses.
1 N.Y.U. J.L. & Liberty 325-333 (2005)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barnett, Randy E., "Foreword: What's So Wicked About Lochner?" (2005). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 46.