A few blurbs:
Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Marshall, the Supreme Court construed the provision expansively, and it rapidly became the primary vehicle for federal judicial review of state legislation before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. Indeed, the contract clause was one of the most litigated provisions of the Constitution throughout the nineteenth century, and its history reflects the impact of wars, economic distress, and political currents on reading the Constitution. Ely shows how, over time, the courts carved out several malleable exceptions to the constitutional protection of contracts—most notably the notion of an inalienable police power—thus weakening the contract clause and enhancing state regulatory authority. His study documents the near-fatal blow dealt to the provision by New Deal constitutionalism, when the perceived need for governmental intervention in the economy superseded the economic rights of individuals.
Though the 1970s saw a modest revival of interest in the contract clause, the criteria for invoking it remain uncertain. And yet, as state and local governments try to trim the benefits of public sector employees, the provision has once again figured prominently in litigation. In this book, James Ely gives us a timely, analytical lens for understanding these contemporary challenges, as well as the critical historical significance of the contract clause.
"Students of the modern Constitution pay little attention to the Contract Clause, yet for more than 150 years it was one of the most litigated issues before American courts. James Ely has done a masterful job in not only analyzing the development of Contract Clause jurisprudence, but does so in a way that will be understandable by lay persons as well as scholars. This will be the definitive book on this subject for many years to come."—Melvin I. Urofsky
"Professor Ely has indeed written the ‘definitive history’ of the clause that once was the Constitution’s most prolific source of litigation. It will immediately become the indispensable text, superseding Benjamin F. Wright’s classic but outdated study. With his unrivaled mastery of case law and legal scholarship, Ely has crafted a work that in telling the particular story of the contract clause is also a probing examination of constitutional law’s elusive quest to draw the line between governmental regulation and the free pursuit of economic activity."—Charles F. HobsonMore information is available here.