Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The landmark decision of Buchanan v. Warley' has long deserved greater attention from scholars. Decided during the so-called Progressive Era, when segregationist attitudes were at full tide, Buchanan combined judicial protection of individual property rights with solicitude for racial minorities. Indeed, Buchanan represents both the resolute defense of property owners' rights against regulation and the most significant judicial victory for civil rights during the early decades of the twentieth century.

One can only speculate about the lack of scholarly interest in Buchanan. Possibly, the dual nature of Buchanan has made it difficult for scholars to assess. Perhaps the property-centered focus of Buchanan made the case awkward for post-New Deal liberals, who are indifferent at best to the constitutional protection of property rights. Clearly Buchanan does not fit neatly into post-New Deal jurisprudence, with its artificial and unhistorical division between the rights of property owners and other individual liberties. Such factors may have caused scholars to overlook or intentionally downplay Buchanan.