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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Presumptions Of Classical Liberal Constitutionalism, Matthew J. Lindsay Jan 2017

The Presumptions Of Classical Liberal Constitutionalism, Matthew J. Lindsay

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Richard A. Epstein’s The Classical Liberal Constitution is an imposing addition to the burgeoning body of legal scholarship that seeks to “restore” a robust conception of economic liberty and limited government to its rightful place at the center of American constitutionalism. Legislators and judges operating within a “classical liberal conception of government,” Epstein explains, would approach skeptically “[a]ll [regulatory] proposals that deviate from the basic common law protections of life, liberty, and property.” Classical liberal constitutional courts would thus renounce the toothless rational basis review of the post-New Deal “progressive mindset,” and instead subject to exacting scrutiny the ...


The Italian Enlightenment And The American Revolution: Cesare Beccaria's Forgotten Influence On American Law, John Bessler Jan 2017

The Italian Enlightenment And The American Revolution: Cesare Beccaria's Forgotten Influence On American Law, John Bessler

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The influence of the Italian Enlightenment—the Illuminismo—on the American Revolution has long been neglected. While historians regularly acknowledge the influence of European thinkers such as William Blackstone, John Locke and Montesquieu, Cesare Beccaria’s contributions to the origins and development of American law have largely been forgotten by twenty-first century Americans. In fact, Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into English as On Crimes and Punishments (1767), significantly shaped the views of American revolutionaries and lawmakers. The first four U.S. Presidents—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—were inspired by ...