Skip to main content

Lockhart, William B. (1906–1995)

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.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Lockhart, William B. (1906–1995)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . 20 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Lockhart, William B. (1906–1995)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . (January 20, 2019).

"Lockhart, William B. (1906–1995)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.