Mike Gilbert Guest Post: What Election Law Can Learn From Law & Economics
I’m writing about a book of mine that may be of interest to the election law community. The title is Public Law and Economics, my coauthor is Robert Cooter (Berkeley Law), and the publisher is Oxford University Press. We have open access, and the book can be downloaded for free from many sites, including this one. We designed the book as a teaching tool and hope it will be useful to scholars as well.
We conceive of public law as the product of six fundamental processes: bargaining, voting, entrenching, delegating, adjudicating, and enforcing. The book devotes two chapters to each, with the first presenting (as clearly as we could manage) the economic analysis of that process, and the second applying that analysis to concrete problems in law. To give an example, the first chapter on bargaining explains the Coase Theorem in public law contexts (e.g., legislators trading votes, judges haggling over opinions). The next chapter applies the theorem to federalism, considering when states can successfully bargain to address social problems, and when the federal government can and should step in.