March 20: Substantitive Due Process

harlan.jpg (7997 bytes) Justice John Marshall Harlan, the great dissenter from the Gilded Age Court

Despite its truly bizarre interpretation of the 14th amendment, the power of the Supreme Court grew substantially in the period after Reconstruction.  In an America transformed by industrialization, the Court emerged as the most reliable bastion of business power. The Gilded Age Court and economic issues is the subject for tonight's class.



    Przybyszewski, The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan, pp. 81-117.

    Gillman, The Constitution Besieged, sourcebook.

Today, we begin our first of three classes reading the newest good judicial biography published. John Marshall Harlan remains best known for his dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (which we'll read), but he is also of interest for his views on the relationship between the Constitution and economic policy and the constitutionalism of imperialism. Judicial biographies are among the hardest types of books to write, since the temptation is to rely solely on the published opinion of the Justice in question. Read this book, then, with something of a critical eye.


U.S. v. E.C. Knight (1895)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

And, if desired, the primer on how to read Supreme Court cases historically.


1.) To what extent did Justice Harlan's dissent in Plessy reflect the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (from last class)? What would a civil rights policy as desired by Harlan have looked like?

2.) What was the key issue at stake in E.C. Knight? And why did the Court decide as it did?

3.) Given E.C. Knight, did the Court apply the same rules to its own authority with regard to federalism as it did toward the authority of Congress?

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