How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution explores the fundamental shift in political and economic thought of the Progressive Era and how the Supreme Court was used to transform the Constitution into one that reflected the ideas of their own time, while undermining America’s founding principles.
Epstein examines key decisions to demonstrate how Progressives attacked much of the legal precedent and eventually weakened the Court’s thinking concerning limited federal powers and the protection of individual rights. Progressives on the Court undermined basic economic principles of freedom and competition, paving the way for the modern redistributive and regulatory state.
As Epstein writes, the Progressives “were determined that their vision of the managed economy should take precedence in all areas of life. Although they purported to have great sophistication on economic and social matters, their understanding was primitive. The Progressives and their modern defenders have to live with the stark truth that the noblest innovations of the Progressive Era were its greatest failures.”
How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution shows that our modern “constitutional law,” fashioned largely by the New Deal Court in the late 1930s, has its roots in Progressivism, not in our country’s founding principles, and how so many of those ideas, however discredited by more recent economic thought, still shape the Court’s decisions.