Yearly Archives: 2012

Bureaucratic Nirvana

Norton E. Long, Bureaucracy and Constitutionalism, 46 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 808 (1952).

Towards the beginning of his book Law and Disagreement, Jeremy Waldron says that he will offer an airbrushed view of legislatures and their capacities, as a deliberate counterpoint to the romantic view of courts so prevalent in the older literature on legal and constitutional theory. Others have offered optimistic accounts of the Presidency. But has anyone done the same for the federal line agencies and civil service — the federal bureaucracy? Will no one give us a vision of bureaucratic nirvana?

An unpromising assignment, to be sure. But it turns out that someone has taken it on, and done it superbly. In 1952 a public administration scholar, Norton E. Long, wrote an article on “Bureaucracy and Constitutionalism” in the APSR. The article offers nothing less than a vision of an American public law order guided, shaped and perfected by a quasi-independent administrative bureaucracy. Long’s article has been cited a couple of hundred times in the public administration literature, but — by my highly unscientific count — only a handful of times in the legal literature. As far as administrative law and the theory of the administrative state go, Long’s article is a neglected classic, although Long’s ideas made their way to the legal literature indirectly through the work of other public administration scholars heavily influenced by Long, such as John A. Rohr (in his 1986 book To Run a Constitution). Continue reading "Bureaucratic Nirvana"

Bureaucratic Nirvana

Norton E. Long, Bureaucracy and Constitutionalism, 46 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 808 (1952).

Towards the beginning of his book Law and Disagreement, Jeremy Waldron says that he will offer an airbrushed view of legislatures and their capacities, as a deliberate counterpoint to the romantic view of courts so prevalent in the older literature on legal and constitutional theory. Others have offered optimistic accounts of the Presidency. But has anyone done the same for the federal line agencies and civil service — the federal bureaucracy? Will no one give us a vision of bureaucratic nirvana?

An unpromising assignment, to be sure. But it turns out that someone has taken it on, and done it superbly. In 1952 a public administration scholar, Norton E. Long, wrote an article on “Bureaucracy and Constitutionalism” in the APSR. The article offers nothing less than a vision of an American public law order guided, shaped and perfected by a quasi-independent administrative bureaucracy. Long’s article has been cited a couple of hundred times in the public administration literature, but — by my highly unscientific count — only a handful of times in the legal literature. As far as administrative law and the theory of the administrative state go, Long’s article is a neglected classic, although Long’s ideas made their way to the legal literature indirectly through the work of other public administration scholars heavily influenced by Long, such as John A. Rohr (in his 1986 book To Run a Constitution). Continue reading "Bureaucratic Nirvana"

Reclaiming Fuller

Kristen Rundle, Forms Liberate: Reclaiming the Jurisprudence of Lon L Fuller (Oxford, Hart Publications, 2012).

“There are human goods that can be secured only through the institutions of human law, and requirements of practical reasonableness that only those institutions can satisfy. It is the object of this book to identify those goods and those requirements of practical reasonableness, and thus to show how and on what conditions such institutions are justified and the ways in which they can be (and often are) defective.” So wrote John Finnis at the outset of Natural Law and Natural Rights. We often think of Finnis as being distinctive among legal philosophers in the modern era in wishing to place this question at the very centre of jurisprudential inquiry. It is not an approach to the subject that we immediately connect, in our reflections, with the legal philosophy of that other prominent opponent of legal positivist understandings of the legal order, Lon Fuller. But as Kristen Rundle’s excellent book Forms Liberate reminds us, Fuller was unwavering in his insistence that there is something distinctive and important about legal forms, that there are aspects of the human condition, of incalculable importance to us, that can be “secured only through the institutions of human law.” At the same time, Fuller also connected this distinctiveness of form with the issue of practical deliberations, of the manifestation and respect of human agency.

The main purpose of Forms Liberate is to “reclaim” Fuller’s jurisprudential concerns from the periphery of present-day philosophical debates, and to return them to the centre of our inquiries so that they might interrogate the assumptions, both of method and of substance, that continue to structure the domain of inquiry. The title of the book comes from a working note of Fuller’s, written during the preparation of his “Reply to Critics,” in which all except those two words are scored out: “forms liberate.” Drawing heavily upon Fuller’s private papers, the book attempts to explain the significance of that image for Fuller’s project, to situate it in the context of Fuller’s thinking as a whole. Rundle suggests that Fuller never managed successfully to articulate his agenda within the much narrower context that Hart forced upon their famous exchanges, which often left Fuller bewildered: in particular, “Fuller losing himself and some of his best ideas to the challenge of understanding why Hart and others had dismissed him so harshly…” (P. 5.) Continue reading "Reclaiming Fuller"

Costing Financial Regulation

Bruce R. Kraus & Connor Raso, Rational Boundaries for SEC Cost-Benefit Analysis, 30 Yale J. on Reg. (forthcoming 2012), available at SSRN.

Debates about the costs and benefits of regulation, and about particular rules, are a very visible feature of lobbying about proposed financial regulation and of challenges to final rules. Industry opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act has focused on arguments about the costs of regulations envisaged by the Act. For example, in the summer of 2012 the US Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness published a report by Anjan Thakor on the Economic Consequences of the Volcker Rule which argued that the rule would adversely affect bank customers as well as banks. The report argued that reductions in the risk of banking and of costs to taxpayers could be achieved “with greater efficiency by making judicious use of capital and liquidity requirements.” Senator Richard Shelby introduced the Financial Regulatory Responsibility Act of 2011 (FRRA) in Congress with a promise that it would hold “financial regulators accountable for rigorous, consistent economic analysis on every new rule they propose.” Bruce Kraus and Connor Raso are concerned that the SEC’s ability to regulate, and even to carry out its mandates under Dodd-Frank, will be severely compromised by these developments.

In this paper Kraus and Raso argue that, by failing to provide its own interpretation of the National Securities Markets Improvement Act’s requirement that the SEC consider the impact of its rules on “efficiency, competition and capital formation,” the SEC allowed commentators and the courts to define the agency’s obligations with respect to cost-benefit analysis. The authors critique court decisions which have addressed the SEC’s obligations to consider the impact of its rules on “efficiency, competition and capital formation,”(in particular Business Roundtable v SEC), and argue that the SEC should now “affirm its substantial and long-standing expertise in financial economics, and insist on the agency’s right, derived from that expertise, to discern and define the boundary between economic analysis and policy choice.” Kraus and Raso discuss the SEC’s composition as a multi-member, bi-partisan agency which must, as a result, engage in compromise, even log-rolling, although its ability to do so is compromised by the Sunshine Act. The structure of the SEC is thus important in thinking about how the SEC should act, and the authors argue that the requirement that the SEC engage in cost-benefit analysis should not be interpreted to “invalidate the predictable results of such a system.” Kraus and Raso approve of the SEC’s March 2012 issuance of Guidance on Economic Analysis in SEC Rulemakings, but they urge the SEC to think of “involving economists more completely in the policymaking process” as more than “a procedural change.” They argue that “the economic analysis will be more compelling if it influences (rather than merely describes and rationalizes) the substance of the rule.” Continue reading "Costing Financial Regulation"

Shining the Light on Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Francine T. Sherman, Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress, 59 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 1584 (2012).

When we think of the carceral state, girls do not immediately come to mind. While the function of the juvenile justice system is ostensibly rehabilitation rather than punishment, and juveniles are detained not incarcerated, such differences are often illusory to those in the system. But even when we think of juveniles, our first image is likely to be of boys, many of whom were once cavalierly referred to as “super predators” whose perceived violence caused a shift to more punitive juvenile justice policies, including routine transfer of youths to adult courts. While we can debate how much of this image is a false characterization, it has drowned out the presence of girls in the system, except to the extent that they, too, are portrayed as violent gang members.

Francine Sherman is one of the few legal scholars who studies the plight of juvenile girls. An earlier article of hers written with Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center, When Individual Differences Demand Equal Treatment: An Equal Rights Approach to the Special Needs of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, 18 Wis. Women’s L.J. 9 (2003), is still the go-to analysis for supporting the use of gender responsive programming for both girls and adult women offenders. Her current article presents a retrospective of how girls have fared during the last 40 years of evolving juvenile justice policy and includes suggestions about new directions that would benefit this growing but ignored population. Justice For Girls is a significant article that is even better on second reading. Not only does it precisely capture the reasons underlying current policies and make practical recommendations, but it also investigates the difficulties inherent in applying the concept of data-driven research to programming for girls, an issue that has general application for evaluating the much larger universe of adult correctional programs and practices. Continue reading "Shining the Light on Girls in the Juvenile Justice System"

Estate Planning Makes Business Sense for Non-Traditional Families

McKen Carrington & Christopher Ogolla, Fame, Family Feuds, Lack of Estate Planning, and Ethical Misconduct in the Administration of the Billion-Dollar Legacy of Bob Marley, 4 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L. J. 53 (2012), available at bepress.

Fame, Family Feuds, Lack of Estate Planning, and Ethical Misconduct in the Administration of the Billion-Dollar Legacy of Bob Marley reads like a fact pattern for a law school final examination. In the article, Professors McKen Carrington and Christopher Ogolla discuss the controversy surrounding the estate of Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley. Famed reggae icon and Rastafarian Marley died intestate in 1981 with an estate valued at approximately 30 million dollars at the time of his death. Although Carrington and Ogolla focus on Jamaican law, the issues they highlight extend far beyond Jamaica and provide a backdrop for discussing several issues important in the administration of a decedent’s estate. With respect to the administration of Marley’s estate, those issues included adopted children, out of wedlock children, intellectual property rights, fiduciary obligations of a trustee, ethical obligations of an attorney, and choice of law issues. Further, there were allegations of forgery and fraud. Carrington and Ogolla merely scratch the surface with each of these topics. I would love to see them expand on several of the topics they highlight. Real life stories make great topics for writing and teaching in the area of decedents’ estates.

One of the first issues addressed in the paper is who should be included in Marley’s family. The article provides a brief section on the Marley family structure. Although Marley was survived by a spouse, Rita and the three children born to their marital union, he was also survived by two children of Rita that he had adopted and six other children that he had fathered with other women while he was married to Rita. I would have liked for the authors to have included a little more detail about the Marley family. Continue reading "Estate Planning Makes Business Sense for Non-Traditional Families"

Hypersalience and Why Understanding Behavioral Tax Law and Economics Means Understanding Tax

Lilian V. Faulhaber, The Hidden Limits of the Charitable Deduction: An Introduction to Hypersalience (Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 12-02, 2012).

As Lilian Faulhaber describes in her article, The Hidden Limits of the Charitable Deduction: An Introduction to Hypersalience, salience recently has become a hot topic in tax scholarship.  This increasing focus on salience arises out of the behavioral economics school.  No longer are taxpayers assumed to be rationally maximizing their utility in the manner that economic models might predict.  Rather, behavioral economics suggests that they often rely on mental shortcuts, or heuristics, to make decisions.  As a result, scholars have suggested and, to some extent, documented how the salience, or prominence, of a tax provision may determine taxpayer responsiveness to the provision.  Scholars have identified two types of salience: market salience (the impact of salience on market, or economic, activity) and political salience (the impact of salience on political outcomes).  Faulhaber’s article addresses the scholarship regarding market salience.  As Faulhaber describes, the primary focus of such scholarship has been on whether and how low salience taxes (sometimes referred to as “hidden taxes”) may cause taxpayers to underestimate the true cost of taxation and thereby potentially reduce behavioral distortions from taxation, which many view as the Holy Grail of tax policy.

However, Faulhaber astutely notes that this perspective regarding salience is only one side of the “hidden tax coin.”  Faulhaber explains that low salience tax provisions only cause taxpayers to underestimate the true cost of taxation when the tax provisions are revenue-raising provisions.  Since scholars have not focused on revenue-reducing tax provisions, they have not focused to any great extent on the phenomenon that Faulhaber introduces in this article: hypersalience.  Hypersalience, as Faulhaber defines it, is “the phenomenon by which the prominence of a tax provision leads taxpayers to overestimate its incidence.”  Hypersalience exists when there is a highly salient tax-reduction provision, combined with low salience restrictions or limitations on the tax-reduction provision.  Faulhaber’s introduction of hypersalience into the tax literature is important for a number of reasons.  First, Faulhaber’s discussion adds an important new dimension to the increasingly prominent salience scholarship.  Second, Faulhaber’s focus on hypersalience allows her to delve into a number of resulting, pressing policy issues, which have not previously been examined.  Finally, Faulhaber’s general discovery of hypersalience illustrates a basic but fundamentally important lesson: Behavioral economics phenomena do not operate in a vacuum.  Rather, how they affect taxpayers depends on how they actually interact with particular tax provisions and with the administration of such provisions. Continue reading "Hypersalience and Why Understanding Behavioral Tax Law and Economics Means Understanding Tax"

Auto-Reportage and the Enlightened User

When I first encountered Nora Young’s new book —The Virtual Self—I thought, omg, another book about that?! Don’t get me wrong; earlier this year I devoured Julie Cohen’s Configuring the Networked Self just as quickly as I did Daniel Solove’s The Digital Person back when it first came out.

But if I include an exciting new edited volume by Cynthia Carter Ching and Brian Foley released earlier this year, then by my count there are more than a dozen books in the last couple of years about constructing the self in the digital world. Continue reading "Auto-Reportage and the Enlightened User"

The (Mis)alignment Debate

Jules L. Coleman, Mistakes, Misunderstandings, and Misalignments, 121 Yale L.J. Online 541 (2012).

In Mistakes, Misunderstandings and Misalignments, Jules Coleman joins the debate precipitated by Ariel Porat’s Misalignments in Tort Law and carried on by Mark Geistfeld in The Principle of Misalignment: Duty, Damages and the Nature of Tort Liability, and by Israel Gilead and Michael D. Green in Maligned Misalignments. Coleman’s contribution to the debate is important both in its own right and because the larger debate in which it figures represents the state of play with respect to important issues in tort theory. That debate throws into relief the issues that now divide wrongs-oriented and efficiency-oriented theories of tort. The debate also flushes out the lurking significance of “harm” as perhaps the most understudied concept in tort law.

Professor Porat’s originating contribution identifies five misalignments in negligence law—circumstances where the risks accounted for in setting the standard of care differ from the risks for which liability is imposed and damages are awarded at the conclusion of a successful negligence suit. Alignment requires that the same risks be taken into account and the same valuations used by courts in setting the standard of care and in imposing liability and damages. Misalignments are a sign that the law may be structured in a way which leads potential injurers to make inappropriate investments in accident prevention. Professor Porat’s fine paper prompted three diverse rejoinders. Professors Gilead and Green rejoined that the misalignments may be ways in which the law of torts takes approximate account of negative externalities. Continue reading "The (Mis)alignment Debate"

Suspicious Eyes: The Uneasy Relationship Between Feminism, Male Parenting, and Child Molestation Laws

Camille Gear Rich, Innocence Interrupted: Reconstructing Fatherhood in the Shadow of Child Molestation Law, 101 Calif. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013), available at SSRN.

How committed are feminists to gender equality?   In Innocence Interrupted: Reconstructing Fatherhood in the Shadow of Child Molestation Law (to be published this spring in the California Law Review), Camille Gear Rich identifies an issue as to which feminists have seemed almost willfully blind: gender bias in child molestation prosecutions.

The problem is this: men are prosecuted under child molestation laws for engaging in the same behaviors that mothers perform without fear of criminal sanction. As examples, Rich describes cases in which men have been prosecuted for bathing a child’s genitals by hand rather than with a washcloth, wiping a child’s bottom after toileting, applying diaper cream to a child’s genitals, bathing with a child, and kissing a child’s naked stomach, thighs, and genitals. These examples are revealing. We would not expect mothers to be under suspicion of child abuse for these kinds of behaviors; we are not terribly surprised that men are. Why, Rich asks, haven’t feminists found this troubling? Continue reading "Suspicious Eyes: The Uneasy Relationship Between Feminism, Male Parenting, and Child Molestation Laws"