Limits on States: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

By James M. McGoldrick Jr. | Go to book overview

Bibliographical Essay

CHAPTER 2: THE CONTRACT CLAUSE

There is a book by Professor Benjamin Wright on the Contract Clause in an earlier series republished by Greenwood Press on the U.S. Constitution. It is perhaps the definitive book on the historical development of the Contract Clause. Wright’s command of the minutiae of the early Contact Clause cases knows no bounds. He does not attempt a treatise on the law of the Contract Clause but attempts to summarize the number and breadth of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Although invaluable as a historical reference, the book was published a few years after 1934, when the Court in Home Building & Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell began the more modern approach to the clause. Wright, Benjamin Fletcher, Jr., The Contract Clause of the Constitution (1938).

There are a number of law review articles on the Contract Clause, many of them written shortly after the Supreme Court’s more recent rediscovery of the clause. Stephen A. Siegel’s article nicely places the clause in historical context, comparing the protection given to contracts with that given to other economic rights pursuant to an understanding of property vs. privilege and under the No Taking Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Stephen A. Siegel, Understanding the Nineteenth Century Contract Clause: The Role of the Property-Privilege Distinction and “Takings” Clause Jurisprudence. 60 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1 (1986).

Espousing a view of the Contract Clause emphasizing reasonable investmentbased expectations, what he calls a reliance-based approach, Robert A. Graham fits the more modern cases into an overall historical pattern. Robert A. Graham, The Constitution, the Legislature, and Unfair Surprise: Toward a Reliance-based Approach to the Contract Clause, 92 Mich. L. Rev. 398 (1993).

Although his article was written in 1984, Richard A. Epstein anticipates the Court’s rapid loss of interest in the Contract Clause as a meaningful restriction on state erosion of property rights. Richard A. Epstein, Toward a Revitalization of the Contract Clause, 51 U. Chi. L. Rev. 703 (1984).

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Limits on States: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • 1 - History and Introduction to Article I, Section 10 1
  • 2 - The Contract Clause 5
  • 3 - Bills of Attainder 55
  • 4 - Ex Post Facto Laws 65
  • 5 - The Nonretroactive Provisions of Article I, Section 10 81
  • 6 - The Import-Export Clause 89
  • 7 - Interstate Compacts 101
  • 8 - Concluding Comments on Article I, Section 10 111
  • Bibliographical Essay 115
  • Table of Cases 125
  • Index 131
  • About the Author 135
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