View all Events

Neither Liberal Nor Conservative: A Maverick’s View Of The Supreme Court

Thursday November 2007


Richard A. Epstein Visiting Scholar, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago, Peter and Kirstin Bedford Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Commentators on the United States Supreme Court often talk of “liberal” or “conservative” justices and legal rulings. In an evening lecture in the Center for Legal Policy’s fall series “Law, Litigation, and State Power,” Manhattan Institute Visiting Scholar Richard Epstein argues that such facile characterizations miss the point.

Professor Epstein’s view, instead, focuses on how the Constitution could, should, and once did limit the government’s power. Professor Epstein first developed his thesis with regard to expansive powers of taxation and regulation at both the federal and state level in his seminal Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. His sequel Bargaining With the State examined the flip side of that question, exploring the limits of government power to give benefits to various private individuals and groups. Professor Epstein grounded his view historically last year in his book How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution, which traces the decline of the classical model of government as it pertains to issues of both federalism and individual rights.

As the Supreme Court begins a new term tackling various cases of constitutional import, Professor Epstein’s talk promises to shed light on the chief legal issues that drive so much of our current political discussion.