Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2021
In the United States, Adam Smith continues to be cited to in legal articles,1 books,2 and court opinions.3 He is also mentioned frequently in newspapers and magazines.4 Many of these citations are limited to a few well-known quotes from Smith’s work and make reference to the benefits of self-interest, private property, limited government, and the workings of the invisible hand. While this literature is of note for the continuing references made to Smith some 250 years after his death, much of this is superficial, and Smith often appears as little more than a trope for positioning one’s political and economic viewpoint. Among the places where Smith is referenced, most interestingly, are the legal opinions issued by the courts of the United States. Court opinions are not like articles and newspaper columns; they are serious matters that have an impact on the law.
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