Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Explaining the Importance of Public Choice for Law

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

I have a book review forthcoming in the Michigan Law Review.  The piece is titled Explaining the Importance of Public Choice for Law.

ABSTRACT: The next generation of government officials, business leaders and members of civil society likely will draw from the current pool of law school students. These students often lack a foundation of the theoretical and analytical tools necessary to understand law’s interplay with government. This highlights the importance of public choice analysis. By framing issues through a public choice lens, these students will learn the dynamics of effective decision-making within various institutional settings. Filling the void of how to explain the decision-making process of institutional actors in legal settings is Public Choice Concepts and Applications in Law by Maxwell Stearns and Todd Zywicki.

Because of its analytic depth, Public Choice Concepts is likely to be recognized as the leading work on the subject for some time. Stearns and Zywicki’s contribution to public choice scholarship is important and compelling. Part I of this review addresses common misperceptions about public choice, provides a descriptive summary of the book, explains its important implications, and suggests some limitations. Part II takes issue with Stearns and Zywicki on one important ground - their failure to adequately consider public choice issues in an international context. A number of issues of international importance, such as trade, environmental and financial regulation, have become daily staples in policy debates. This Part describes how an understanding of public choice can offer insights into international antitrust.

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