Lockhart, William B. (1906–1995)

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LOCKHART, WILLIAM B. (1906–1995)

William B. Lockhart was a major constitutional law figure for more than a half century. Closely identified with the University of Minnesota Law School, where he taught for twenty-eight years and was dean from 1956 to 1972, Lockhart also served on the law faculties at Stanford (1938–1946) and the University of California, Hastings (1975–1994). Although he occupied several prestigious administrative positions—president of the Association of American Law Schools, a longtime member of the Council of the American Law Institute, and chairman of President lyndon b. johnson's controversial National Commission on Obscenity and Pornography—he was most prominently recognized for his seminal contributions to constitutional law scholarship. His series of articles on state taxation of commerce and obscenity significantly influenced the Supreme Court and were often cited in its opinions, beginning in 1940 and continuing to the present time. On state taxation, he contended that the Court should abandon the so-called Formal Rule—that states may not tax any activity viewed by the Court as a part of interstate commerce, even though the tax threatens no discriminatory burden on commerce—which had been used for a century to invalidate many state taxes. His view was finally accepted by the Court in 1977. His position on obscenity—that normal first amendment protection should be afforded to all sex-related expression except for material treated as hard-core pornography by its primary audience and the manner in which it is sold—has been less successful as a matter of constitutional doctrine, although essentially followed in actual practice. Finally, Lockhart co-authored eight editions of a widely used case-book on constitutional law—the first edition published in 1964 and the most recent published in 1996—the hallmark of which was the inclusion of many selections from the literature woven into notes and questions that were contained throughout the materials.

Jesse H. Choper


Lockhart, William B. 1975 Escape from the Chill of Uncertainty: Explicit Sex and the First Amendment. Georgia Law Review 9:533–587.

——1981 A Revolution in State Taxation of Commerce? Minnesota Law Review 65:1025–1061.

Lockhart, William B. and Mc Clure, Robert C. 1960 Censorship of Obscenity: The Developing Constitutional Standards. Minnesota Law Review 45:5–121.