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Jeff King

Abstract: Several studies have been written about the role of courts in protecting constitutional social rights. Less has been said about how constitutional social rights fit with the broader practice of liberal constitutionalism and the ideas of its key theorists. Accordingly, this chapter examines (1) how liberal constitutionalism evolved gradually from hostile to mildly receptive to constitutional social justice; (2) the analytical structure and substantive content of social rights claims; (3) the role of social rights in the influential theories of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas; and (4) how, whether or not social rights are directly enforced by judges, they may indirectly serve to reject neoliberal public law, transform private law, and foster social readings of classical civil rights and liberties.