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Progressive Legal Thought


Herbert Hovenkamp


June 9, 2015

A widely accepted model of American legal history is that “classical” legal thought, which dominated much of the nineteenth century, was displaced by “progressive” legal thought, which survived through the New Deal and in some form to this day. Within its domain, this was a revolution nearly on par with Copernicus or Newton. This paradigm has been adopted by both progressive liberals who defend this revolution and by classical liberals who lament it. Nevertheless, the model seriously misinterprets the legal revolution that occurred in the early twentieth century.


Herbert Hovenkamp, Progressive Legal Thought, 72 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 653 (2015).