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"Freedom of Contract":

I've posted my essay "Freedom of Contract" for downloading on SSRN. The abstract reads: "This essay provides a concise overview of the history of the constitutional status of freedom of contract in the United States, with particular attention to the rise and fall of the '"liberty of contract' doctrine in the early 20th century."

Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Nice summary. I have always taken the prohibition on impairment of the obligations of contracts to be restricted to retroactive action because it is the third of three prohibited actions, the first two of which are: (1) "Bill of Attainder" and (2) "ex post facto Law". The fact that it immediately follows a prohibition on ex post facto law suggests that the offensive aspect is the retroactivity. The relationship to bills of attainder is not so clear. A bill of attainder is not on its surface retroactive. The objection is primarily that it violates due process. However, since a bill of attainder bypasses the judicial process, it can be used to criminalize conduct that was not criminal at the time of the acts in question and thus to create crimes retroactively, so perhaps bills of attainder do have retroactivity in common with ex post facto laws.

Is there evidence as to the intention of the Framers with regard to impairment of contracts?
9.2.2008 10:33pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Well, you can sure see what interests people today. Here's a legal topic central to debate over the role of the state and therefore presumably of interest not only to libertarians but to those of other political persuasions, and it goes for hours without a single comment? Sheesh.
9.2.2008 11:57pm
Dell Adams:
The first thing that occurs to me is that the provision against laws impairing the obligation of contracts is directed only towards the States. In the place where Congress itself is forbidden to pass bills of attainder and ex post facto laws (Article I, section 9, clause 3), laws impairing contracts are not mentioned.
9.4.2008 12:24am