Monday, April 10, 2006

Where's Substantive Due Process When You Need It?

McQ at QandO asks "Massachusetts 'health care' prelude to government takeover?" -- and answers in the affirmative. When it happens, I am sure that the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to step in. The Court ought to invalidate any such takeover as a violation of liberty of contract, which is guaranteed in Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution. The Court used to invoke the doctrine of substantive due process to uphold liberty of contract. As I pointed out here:

The Framers understood very well that obligation of contracts (or liberty or freedom of contract) is both a matter of liberty and a matter of property. For to interfere legislatively with liberty of contract amounts to a deprivation of due process because such interference prevents willing parties from employing their labor or property in the pursuit of otherwise lawful ends. That is, the legislature finds them "guilty" of otherwise lawful actions by forbidding and penalizing those actions.

State-run health insurance would deprive health-care providers and their patients of the freedom to decide the terms under which they will do business with one another.

This post at The Volokh Conspiracy suggests that the concept of substantive due process, which came to maturity in Lochner v. New York (1905), only to be cast aside during the New Deal, may be regaining respectability. If that's true -- and I hope it is -- it will be just in time to save the citizens of Massachusetts from the Commonwealth's version of socialized medicine.