THE CONTRACT CLAUSE AND STATE POLICE POWER
JUDICIAL REVIEW OF THE POWER of Congress to regulate commerce and to tax and spend, and the relation of federal authority to state power in these areas highlights one of the first great antinomies of American constitutional lawnational supremacy versus dual federalism. By 1937 the Court had largely resolved that conflict in favor of national power. This chapter features another major antinomy -- the doctrine of vested rights (the general import of which is that "the effect of legislation on existing property rights was a primary test of its validity") versus state police power (the power to promote the health, safety, morals, and general welfare). Throughout much of our history, the state police power has been limited by the commerce clause. We are now to explore the limitations on state power that flow from the doctrine of vested rights.
The struggle between vested rights and police power is a more modern form of the earlier conflict between theories of natural rights, on the one hand, and the principle of legislative supremacy on the other. On this side of the Atlantic, these two doctrines appeared in the prerevolutionary contest between the natural rights