Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Dartmouth College Case Continued

That symposium over at the HistPhil on Dartmouth College v. Woodward, with contributions by Naomi Lamoreau, Evelyn Atkinson, et al. is ongoing.  The latest is by Jane Manners, who this year is an associate in law at Columbia Law School.  Her post commences:
Dartmouth College v Woodward is, as every first-year law student knows, a contract case. Its canonical holding distinguished public corporations from private ones and established that where private corporations are concerned, a legislative charter is a contract, protected from legislative interference by the Constitution’s contract clause. But Dartmouth College has another legacy, which I’ll call its law-of-the-land legacy: the idea that laws ought to be “general and impartial,” and that laws that bestow unique benefits or burdens to particular persons or segments of society are ipso facto illegitimate. Despite the textbooks’ contract clause focus, Dartmouth College’s law-of-the-land legacy has shaped the legislature’s power to advance the public good and its relationship to philanthropy as much as, if not more than, its charter-as-contract holding.

--Dan Ernst