Freeman

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Book Review: Economic Liberties and the Judiciary Edited by James A. Dom and Henry G. Manne

MARCH 01, 1988 by TOMMY W. ROGERS

George Mason University Press, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 • 1987 • 414 pages • $28.00 cloth; $15,75 paperback

Economic Liberties and the Judiciary consists of twenty-three essays by scholars from academia and jurisprudence who deal with the theory and practice of constitutional interpretation and the manner in which economic issues have been handled by the courts. They address such issues as the growing failure of the judiciary to protect economic liberties of human fights in property; the legitimate role of the judiciary—and of government and law generally—in a free society; and the implications of the demise of substantive due process when dealing with economic relationships and the market order. This volume challenges and reassesses attitudes that have long dominated constitutional law and have provided the operative notions for public policy. Now, for the first time in a generation, disciples of the current doctrine of “misguided judicial activism” are being forthrightly challenged on doctrines they have accepted on faith since the New Deal. This confrontation is important because the debate over the Constitution with respect to its guarantees of human fights in property and in economic liberty is, as the editors put it in their Introduction, “a debate over whether the Constitution will survive as a charter for limited government and individual freedom . . . .”

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March 1988

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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