Bruno Leoni’s Legacy and Continued Relevance

TODD ZYWICKI
THE JOURNAL OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE 30.1 (2015): 131-141

Abstract:  In his famous book Freedom and the Law, originally published in 1961, Italian lawyer and economist Bruno Leoni asked whether, over the long run, a society and legal system premised primarily on legislative lawmaking could sustain a system of individual liberty, or whether such a system required a common-law-style foundation to support it. In this article, I evaluate Leoni’s challenge and find that his predictions about the nature of a legislative-centered legal system not only are more relevant than ever, but that recent tendencies toward extreme and arbitrary law-making by executive edict are consistent with the trends and intellectual principles that Leoni identified more than fifty years ago. Because modern legal developments reflect the working out of the jurisprudential principles that Leoni identified fifty years ago, Leoni’s warnings are more relevant today than ever before.