Kens on Rehabilitating Lochner

Paul Kens, a professor of political science at Texas State University, is the author of Lochner v. New York: Economic Regulation on Trial. I described the book in 2011 as “The last major scholarly work on Lochner to propound the traditional view of Lochner–that its origins lie in ‘laissez faire Social Darwinism’ and that its consequences were almost uniformly bad–that has lost favor among historians and that Rehabilitating Lochner tries to discredit once and for all.” I added that “comparing and contrasting the two books would make a great assignment for a constitutional history seminar.”

Given that Kens’s book is the most prominent representative of the traditional perspective on Lochner that I set out to rebut, I was naturally apprehensive when I saw that Kens reviewed my book for H-Law. But as Dan Ernst pointed out on the legal history blog, Kens manages to disagree with some aspects of my work without being disagreeable, and, I would add, he also is pretty careful about only attributing things to me that I actually wrote, which I’ve found is often not the case with book reviewers. Interestingly, and in line with my 2011 post, Kens suggests the following: “I urge any interested reader to lay the two versions side by side, follow the references, and discover a version of the story that is closer to historical truth.” Amen.