Does law and economics matter?

This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the effects of the law and economics movement on the U.S. judiciary. Using the universe of published opinions in U.S. Circuit Courts and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions linked to judge identity, we estimate the effect of attendance in the controversial Manne economics training program, an intensive two-week course attended by almost half of federal judges. After attending economics training, participating judges use more economics language, render more conservative verdicts in economics cases, rule against regulatory agencies more often, and render longer criminal sentences. These results are robust to adjusting for a wide variety of covariates that predict the timing of attendance. Comparing non-Manne and Manne judges prior to program start and exploiting variation in instructors further assuage selection concerns. Non-Manne judges randomly exposed to Manne peers on previous cases increase their use of economics language in subsequent opinions, suggesting economic ideas diffused throughout the judiciary. Variation in topic ordering finds that economic ideas were portable from regulatory to criminal cases.

That is from Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, and Suresh Naidu, via Rethinking Economics and also S.


The Federalist Society is undoubtedly pleased to read research confirming their goals.

And will also undoubtedly be expecting even more donations in the future to further their agenda.

Though it is true that the kegs of beer will remain a minor expense for their get togethers.

I extrapolate from this finding that judges that receive Manne training realize that there are theories and concepts in economics that, like the law, have stood the test of time and should be protected i.e. conserved. Protected from criminals. And also protected from government.
They receive the training and suddenly realize that law and economics do not come from the government. It is in fact the opposite. Profound.

'I extrapolate from this finding that judges that receive Manne training' are well indoctinated is what you probably meant to write.

It isn't as if the law and econ crowd at GMU take a broad view of law or economics, after all.

And what our government embodies are laws, if one takes originalists at their word for the reverence of these words - 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.' Economics is not as clear, of course, though certainly covered by 'general Welfare.'

Law comes from human interpretation of the natural world. Government embodies human interpretation. It is not THE natural world. Hence government receives, it does not create. Government is fallible. Nature is not.

'Law comes from human interpretation of the natural world.'

Not according to the Constitution, which says it is we the people that establish justice.

'Government is fallible.'

Of course it is, being a human institution.

'Nature is not.'

Nature is neither fallible nor infallible.

Pace Judge Posner, who was slapped down by the US Supreme Court for using economic theory in his judgments.

It means this program should be cancelled

The law and economics movement took off when Henry Manne moved to GMU and attracted the support of the John M. Olin Foundation. By far the biggest target of the law and economics movement has been anti-trust laws. Defense of monopoly is a common theme here at this blog. Peter Thiel teaches his followers that monopoly is the key to business success. Yet, Econ 101 is based on the premise that with many competing participants no single participant in a market is strong enough to dominate the market. One has to wonder if the law and economics movement is promoting economics or protecting the powerful.

One has to wonder if the law and economics movement is promoting economics or protecting the powerful.

I don't wonder. What would economics suggest?

'The law and economics movement took off when Henry Manne moved to GMU'

Well, to the extent that it was tied into a number of ongoing efforts to influence American political discourse, then sure, took off is not wrong.

Basically, you are missing the synergies involved in having GMU be a convenient P.O. box for all your public policy influencing needs.

The connections between the Federalists and GMU run very deep, but I have considerably less personal knowledge in that area, though of course the same rules applies to doing PR work for Federalist events at GMU as with IHS events at GMU.

As for Dean Manne, well, let us just say that was a man that would have fit in perfectly with first class flying administration officials (who were breaking the rules by doing so, of course). But then, as proven by former Dean Manne, one can assume that Scott Pruitt will do just fine among people who provide much of the funding involved in creating a much better world.

Is the claim the application of the law & econ concepts are understood and applied or merely that the rhetoric changes?

" intensive two-week course" and "randomly exposed to Manne peers" are not really encouraging standards. One hardly learns the theory, and especially the nuances of the theory in 2 weeks or from random interactions during some specific case or even a few cases.

an intensive two-week course

Does it ever get past the "markets are wondrous" part of the textbook, i.e., the first couple of chapters?

If not, and I don't see how a two week course, no matter how "intensive," (sure!) could this probably does more harm than good.

Such two week courses are not really about the textbook, it is about filtering the attendees for further invitations.

Besides, the Knights of Malta are always looking for a few good men they approve of to become part of the American judiciary.

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