New Right

2012-08-09 12:06:53

The New Right designates, first, a political grassroots movement that moved to the right of the political spectrum sometime in the 1960s, and culminated in the elections of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The term refers, second, to an intellectual movement that provided support for the policies enacted by new majorities disenchanted with the welfare state.

The New Right has a classic liberal (or libertarian) strand. This is shown by its endorsement of private property rights and freedomof contract against government regulation. The libertarian critique of the welfare state is central to the New Right, and in the realm of constitutional law it is reflected in the New Right’s occasional attempts to vindicate Lochner v. New York (1905). (This case is prized by the New Right for its protection of freedom of contract, not necessarily as an example of judicial activism, which the New Right rejects.) However, the New Right has a conservative strand as well. Promoting personal responsibility is the New Right’s response to welfare policies, and promoting moral values is the New Right’s response to leftleaning social policies that, it thinks, have caused social ills such as family disintegration.

The New Right also tends to endorse originalism, the view that courts should respect the original intent of the framers of the Constitution and not infer rights or powers not expressly recognized in the constitutional text. This view is more conservative than libertarian, because it recommends judicial restraint and discourages judicial innovation.


References and Further Reading

  • King, Desmond S. The New Right: Politics, Markets, and Citizenship. London: MacMillan, 1987.
  • Kymlicka, Will. Contemporary Political Philosophy. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Scalia, Antonin. A Matter of Interpretation—Federal Courts and the Law: An Essay. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.
  • Schwartz, Bernard. The New Right and the Constitution. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987.

Cases and Statutes Cited

  • Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905)