History Faculty Database
Arts & Sciences
Duke University

 HOME > Arts & Sciences > History > Faculty    Search Help Login pdf version printable version 

Publications [#71974] of John F Hart

Papers Accepted

  1. J. Hart, “Human Law, Natural Law and Economic Liberties in the Federal Courts, 1789-1835,”, University of San Diego Law Review (2008)
    (last updated on 2007/12/01)

    Legal scholars have uniformly read the early federal courts' most prominent court decisions affecting property rights and economic liberties as instances of "natural law" reasoning akin to that articulated in the Declaration of Independence. This view has implied parallels between the early doctrines and the laissez-faire constitutionalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Properly understood, however, the early decisions that seem to rely on natural law do so only when some discrete historical text with its own independent authority -- a state constitution, an English constitutional text, the ratification debates -- had used natural-rights language. Although lawyers frequently invoked natural law concepts in addressing the courts, the federal courts repeatedly declined to treat natural law as grounds for decision.

Duke University * Arts & Sciences * History * Faculty * Staff * Grad * Reload * Login