Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain

Ilya Somin (George Mason University School of Law). The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain (University of Chicago Press, 2015).


"In this detailed study of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in modern times, Ilya Somin argues that Kelo was a grave error. Economic development and 'blight' condemnations are unconstitutional under both originalist and most 'living constitution' theories of legal interpretation. They also victimize the poor and the politically weak for the benefit of powerful interest groups and often destroy more economic value than they create. Kelo itself exemplifies these patterns. The residents targeted for condemnation lacked the influence needed to combat the formidable government and corporate interests arrayed against them. Moreover, the city’s poorly conceived development plan ultimately failed: the condemned land lies empty to this day, occupied only by feral cats. The Supreme Court’s unpopular ruling triggered an unprecedented political reaction, with forty-five states passing new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain. But many of the new laws impose few or no genuine constraints on takings. The Kelo backlash led to significant progress, but not nearly as much as it may have seemed." 
Publisher's description 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Death of the Income Tax: A Progressive Consumption Tax and the Path to Fiscal Reform


Daniel S. Goldberg (University of Maryland). The Death of the Income Tax: A Progressive Consumption Tax and the Path to Fiscal Reform (Oxford University Press, 2015).

"The Death of the Income Tax explains how the current income tax is needlessly complex, contains perverse incentives against saving and investment, fails to use modern technology to ease compliance and collection burdens, and is subject to micromanaging and mismanaging by Congress. Daniel Goldberg proposes that the solution to the problems of the current income tax is completely replacing it with a progressive consumption tax collected electronically at the point of sale." 
Publisher's description


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Below the Radar: How Silence can Save Civil Rights

Alison L. Gash (University of Oregon). Below the Radar: How Silence can Save Civil Rights (Oxford University Press, 2015).  

"Drawing from interviews with advocates and opponents, the book introduces readers to two sets of civil rights battles in which advocates devised strategies to remain 'under the radar' and away from the prying eyes of a volatile public. In so doing they diminished both the incidence and influence of backlash. Advocates working on behalf of lesbian and gay parents relied on lower court rulings, family law, and less polarizing frames to advance custody and co-parenting requests without attracting the attention of the 'family values' groups and voters who had swiftly barred marriage equality. Those working on behalf of individuals with disabilities hoping to live in community-based group housing delayed notifying zoning boards and neighbors of their intention to reside in single-family neighborhoods until after their property was secured in order to minimize NIMBY-induced housing impediments. This study of low-visibility advocacy offers a lens on an underexplored and underestimated source of policy reform." 
Publisher's website

Monday, July 27, 2015

Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans

Luis H. Zalas (University of Texas). Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans (Oxford University Press, 2015).

 "The United States Constitution insures that all persons born in the US are citizens with equal protection under the law. But in today's America, the US-born children of undocumented immigrantsover four million of themdo not enjoy fully the benefits of citizenship or of feeling that they belong. Children in mixed-status families are forgotten in the loud and discordant immigration debate. They live under the constant threat that their parents will suddenly be deported. Their parents face impossible decisions: make their children exiles or make them orphans. 
Publisher's description

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict


David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst, & Kristen Wall (eds.) (University of Notre Dame). Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict (University of Chicago, 2014).

"Presenting a robust conversation among leading scholars in the areas of international legal standards, counterterrorism strategy, humanitarian law, and the ethics of force, Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict takes account of current American drone campaigns and the developing legal, ethical, and strategic implications of this new way of warfare. Among the contributions to this volume are a thorough examination of the American government’s legal justifications for the targeting of enemies using drones, an analysis of American drone campaigns’ notable successes and failures, and a discussion of the linked issues of human rights, freedom of information, and government accountability." 
Publisher's description