Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform

(Cato Institute and the University of Chicago Press, 2011)

Book Forum
May 2, 2011 4:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author David E. Bernstein, George Mason University School of Law; with comments by Louis Michael Seidman, Georgetown University Law Center; and Gregory E. Maggs, George Washington University School of Law; moderated by Roger Pilon, Cato Institute.

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. Please join us for what is bound to be a lively discussion about this important new book.