by Chris Bertram on July 9, 2003

Larry Solum’s Legal Theory Blog is one of the jewels of the blogosphere. One of his most recent posts is a discussion of the tangled notion of “legitimate state interests” in the US legal system. Here’s his specification of the project:

What makes some state interests “legitimate” and others “illegitimate”? That thorny question is the topic of this post. Here is my strategy. We shall begin with a bit of history, discussing the historical origins of the phrase “legitimate state interest” in jurisprudence from the turn of the century, the New Deal, and the modern era. Next, we shall take a closer look at Lawrence, investigating in depth the idea that the state lacks a legitimate interest in promoting morality. Then, we shall back up and interrogate the concept of “legitimacy.” In the end, we will ask the question: does the notion of a “legitimate state interest” do any useful work in constitutional law?