Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Winter 2017




M.I.T. Press




If the Constitution were a zoo, what resident animal would the Contract Clause be? The clause, which is found in Article I, section 10 of our founding document, reads: “No state shall . . . pass any . . . Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” It certainly would not be one of the zoo’s star attractions; the Contract Clause is no First Amendment lion or Fourth Amendment tiger. But it is no bat-eared fox (the Letters of Marque Clause?) or Eurasian water shrew (the Third Amendment?) either. Based on reading Ely’s comprehensive history of the Contract Clause, perhaps it would be an animal that used to be a big draw but is now one that visitors might check out at the zoo if they had the time but not necessarily a priority. A tapir or some kind of rare goat?



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