Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



It is striking that Rufus W. Peckham has received so little scholarly attention and remains without a biography. He was, of course, the author of Lochner v. New York (1905), one of the most famous and contested decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. Moreover, Peckham wrote important opinions dealing with contractual freedom, antitrust law, eminent domain, dormant commerce power, and the Eleventh Amendment. Indeed, Owen M. Fiss maintains that Peckham and David J. Brewer were intellectual leaders of the Fuller Court, "influential within the dominant coalition and the source of the ideas that gave the Court its sweep and direction." Even when they did not prevail, Fiss observed, Peckham and Brewer "set the terms for the debate."