This paper covers how the substance and meaning of liberty changed during the ending years of the Gilded Age (1870-1900) through the beginning ages of the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968). Economic liberty took shape in the cases Allegeyer v. Louisiana (1897) and Lochner v. New York (1905). Civil liberties would take several more years to come into the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. The case Gitlow v. New York (1925) began the establishment of incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the states, otherwise known as our fundamental liberties (note: The Supreme Court used selective incorporation, however). In the case U.S. v. Carolene Products (1938), the court stated that it would impose higher scrutiny to laws that violated the Bill of Rights. This paper attempts to rationalize that legal realism and sociological jurisprudence, both established by Roscoe Pound, changed the way we view liberty in the modern day. In a span of just under 50 years, the court retreated from substantive Due Process of economic liberty to substantive Due Process of civil liberty and human rights. Rulings such as Korematsu v. U.S. (1945), which established strict scrutiny, were the stepping stones of the growing Civil Rights Movement that would take the nation by storm from the mid-1950s until the end of the 1960s. Lastly, this paper argues that, while it may not be publicly known to all, Supreme Court decisions shape the way our laws are created, and thus, how our democratic society functions as a whole. We must not take our liberty for granted.
Smith, Quentin E.. "The Meaning and Malleableness of Liberty from 1897-1945." The Purdue Historian 10, 1 (2022). https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/puhistorian/vol10/iss1/5