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Economic Liberty

Cato Institute Call for Papers on Constitutional Protection for Economic Liberties

Winning submissions will be included in a symposium, and get a $2000 honorarium.


The Cato Institute (where I am the Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies, in addition to my position at George Mason University) has issued a call for papers for its upcoming April 2024 symposium on constitutional economic liberties.The deadline for proposal submissions has been extended to Nov. 22.

Here is an excerpt from the description (full version available at the Cato website):

Most people would be hard‐​pressed to define the "American Dream" without some reference to economic freedom. From Benjamin Franklin's dozens of inventions (bifocals! A flexible catheter!), to self‐​made man Frederick Douglass, to serial inventor Joy Mangano's miracle mop, Americans believe that with a good idea and enough hard work, anyone can enjoy economic success—no matter the circumstances of their birth.

They'd be surprised, then, to learn that courts do very little to protect the right to earn a living. By all accounts, that precious right was intended to be a centerpiece of the Fourteenth Amendment. Yet Federal courts have all but written it out of the Constitution…

If we want the judiciary to protect economic freedom, it's time to try something new.

Are there constitutional theories besides due process and equal protection that could provide more effective protection for economic liberty? The Cato Institute's Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies is calling for legal scholarship on legal theories that would protect the freedom to contract, to innovate, to earn a living, and to freely engage in mutually beneficial economic transactions. The Center seeks a mix of papers that are both theoretical and practical; that both suggest new litigation strategies and identify specific policies that seem ripe for legal challenge. The papers will be compiled in a special journal edition produced by the Cato Institute, which can serve as a blueprint for scholars, researchers, and litigants who seek to restore the Constitution's promise of opportunity through economic freedom.

Examples include:

Evidence of the original meaning of the Contracts Clause and ways it might be reinvigorated through litigation

Potential theories under the Citizenship Clause

State constitutional anti‐​monopoly and anti‐​gift provisions and other causes of action unique to state law or state constitutions

The Ninth Amendment….

What's left of the dormant Commerce Clause after National Pork Producers v. Ross?…

Surveys of laws that are particularly ripe for challenge

Lessons learned from the past 20 years of economic liberty litigation

Submission Details: Please submit a brief research proposal that describes a new or underexplored constitutional protection for economic liberty. Proposals should be submitted by November 22, 2023, to Anastasia Boden at aboden@​cato.​org. All proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis and approvals will allow authors to begin work early.

Honorarium and Other Support: Authors of accepted papers will receive a $2,000 honorarium. Authors will be offered expert feedback on their research, along with peer‐​review and copyediting assistance. Papers will be published as a special journal volume through the Cato Institute. If requested during the initial proposal period or soon thereafter, we also will try to connect potential coauthors with different legal and empirical expertise.

Symposium: Completed drafts are due by March 1, 2024, but need not be in polished or publishable form. Each author will be expected to formally comment on others' papers. Authors will present their papers at a symposium at the Cato Institute in April of 2024. Cato will cover the cost of hotel accommodation and reasonable travel expenses to the symposium.