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Restoring the Lost ConstitutionThe Presumption of Liberty$
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Randy E. Barnett

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159737

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159737.001.0001

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The Proper Scope of State Power: Construing the “Police Power”

The Proper Scope of State Power: Construing the “Police Power”

(p.322) Chapter Twelve The Proper Scope of State Power: Construing the “Police Power”
Restoring the Lost Constitution

Randy E. Barnett

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the propriety of state laws under what is known as the “police powers” of the states. Unlike the enumerated powers of Congress, the powers of states are unwritten. This makes determining their proper limits one of the most challenging and vexatious issues in constitutional theory. The chapter first considers the need to construe the propriety of state laws before discussing the police power of the states. It shows that these “police powers” are not inconsistent with the rights retained by the people. To the contrary, the protection of individual rights is at the core of a state's police power. A state may also justify its laws by showing that it is merely regulating liberty in a way that protects the rights of others. The chapter also cites the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which found the states' exercise of police power to be improper.

Keywords:   state laws, police power, rights, liberty, Supreme Court, Lawrence v. Texas

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