The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the United States’s regulatory overseer. In Valuing Life, Cass R. Sunstein draws on his firsthand experience as the Administrator of OIRA from 2009 to 2012 to argue that we can humanize regulation—and save lives in the process.
As OIRA Administrator, Sunstein helped oversee regulation in a broad variety of areas, including highway safety, health care, homeland security, immigration, energy, environmental protection, and education. This background allows him to describe OIRA and how it works—and how it can work better—from an on-the-ground perspective. Using real-world examples, many of them drawn from today’s headlines, Sunstein makes a compelling case for improving cost-benefit analysis, a longtime cornerstone of regulatory decision-making, and for taking account of variables that are hard to quantify, such as dignity and personal privacy. He also shows how regulatory decisions about health, safety, and life itself can benefit from taking into account behavioral and psychological research, including new findings about what scares us, and what does not. By better accounting for people’s fallibility, Sunstein argues, we can create regulation that is simultaneously more human and more likely to achieve its goals.
In this highly readable synthesis of insights from law, policy, economics, and psychology, Sunstein breaks down the intricacies of the regulatory system and offers a new way of thinking about regulation that incorporates human dignity– and an insistent focus on the consequences of our choices.
The Verdict of Battle
James Q. Whitman Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress U22.W55 2012 | Dewey Decimal 172.42
Slaughter in battle was once seen as a legitimate way to settle disputes. When pitched battles ceased to exist, the law of victory gave way to the rule of unbridled force. Whitman explains why ritualized violence was more effective in ending carnage, and why humanitarian laws that view war as evil have led to longer, more barbaric conflicts.
Through his columns in the New York Times and his numerous best-selling books, Stanley Fish has established himself as our foremost public analyst of the fraught intersection of academia and politics. Here Fish for the first time turns his full attention to one of the core concepts of the contemporary academy: academic freedom.
Depending on who’s talking, academic freedom is an essential bulwark of democracy, an absurd fig leaf disguising liberal agendas, or, most often, some in-between muddle that both exaggerates its own importance and misunderstands its actual value to scholarship. Fish enters the fray with his typical clear-eyed, no-nonsense analysis. The crucial question, he says, is located in the phrase “academic freedom” itself: Do you emphasize “academic” or “freedom”? The former, he shows, suggests a limited, professional freedom, while the conception of freedom implied by the latter could expand almost infinitely. Guided by that distinction, Fish analyzes various arguments for the value of academic freedom: Is academic freedom a contribution to society's common good? Does it authorize professors to critique the status quo, both inside and outside the university? Does it license and even require the overturning of all received ideas and policies? Is it an engine of revolution? Are academics inherently different from other professionals? Or is academia just a job, and academic freedom merely a tool for doing that job?
No reader of Fish will be surprised by the deftness with which he dismantles weak arguments, corrects misconceptions, and clarifies muddy arguments. And while his conclusion—that academic freedom is simply a tool, an essential one, for doing a job—may surprise, it is unquestionably bracing. Stripping away the mystifications that obscure academic freedom allows its beneficiaries to concentrate on what they should be doing: following their intellectual interests and furthering scholarship.
Perhaps no legal case has done more to reshape America's debate over the death penalty than Illinois's prosecution and conviction of Rolando Cruz. This updated and significantly expanded edition of Victims of Justice tells the pivotal story of Cruz and his two co-defendants after the 1983 murder of ten-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, Illinois. The book follows the story from the day the crime occurred to the groundbreaking trial of seven law officers accused of conspiring to deny Cruz a fair trial.
The kidnapping of Jeanine Nicarico from her quiet suburban home and her brutal slaying sparked a public demand for justice. But the longer authorities strove to execute Cruz and the two other men, the more evidence emerged that the defendants were innocent-and that the death penalty process in America itself was deeply flawed.
Here is the start of a chain reaction that led to a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois and the clearing out of Death Row, as Illinois Governor George Ryan-worried about unfairness in death penalty convictions-granted clemency to all those awaiting execution. This is a detailed study of a nationally known case that should be cited whenever serious scholars examine how capital cases are prosecuted in America. Here is the most thorough investigation yet published into the background of the man who-after Cruz already was on Death Row-claimed to be the real killer.
Violence All Around
John Sifton Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress JC571.S5327 2015 | Dewey Decimal 303.6
A human rights lawyer travels to hot zones around the globe before and after 9/11 to document abuses by warlords, terrorists, and counterterrorism forces. John Sifton reminds us that human rights advocates can only shame the world into better behavior; to invoke rights is to invoke the force to uphold them, including the very violence they deplore.
This timely and accessible volume takes a fresh approach to a question of increasing public concern: whether or not the federal government should regulate media violence. In Violence as Obscenity, Kevin W. Saunders boldly calls into question the assumption that violent material is protected by the First Amendment. Citing a recognized exception to the First Amendment that allows for the regulation of obscene material, he seeks to expand the definition of obscenity to include explicit and offensive depictions of violence. Saunders examines the public debate on media violence, the arguments of professional and public interest groups urging governmental action, and the media and the ACLU’s desire for self-regulation. Citing research that links violence in the media to actual violence, Saunders argues that a present danger to public safety may be reduced by invoking the existing law on obscenity. Reviewing the justifications of that law, he finds that not only is the legal history relied on by the Supreme Court inadequate to distinguish violence from sex, but also many of the justifications apply more forcefully to instances of violence than to sexually explicit material that has been ruled obscene. Saunders also examines the actions that Congress, states, and municipalities have taken to regulate media violence as well as the legal limitations imposed on such regulations by the First Amendment protections given to speech and the press. In discussing the current operation of the obscenity exception and confronting the issue of censorship, he advocates adapting to the regulation of violent material the doctrine of variable obscenity, which applies a different standard for material aimed at youth, and the doctrine of indecency, which allows for federal regulation of broadcast material. Cogently and passionately argued, Violence as Obscenity will attract scholars of American constitutional law and mass communication, and general readers moved by current debates about media violence, regulation, and censorship.
This landmark volume chronicles the history of laws banning interracial marriage in the United States with particular emphasis on the case of Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman who were convicted by the state of Virginia of the crime of marrying across racial lines in the late 1950s. The Lovings were not activists, but their battle to live together as husband and wife in their home state instigated the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that antimiscegenation laws were unconstitutional, which ultimately resulted in the overturning of laws against interracial marriage that were still in effect in sixteen states by the late 1960s.
Ariel Ezrachi Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress HF5548.32.E996 2016 | Dewey Decimal 381.142
Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke take a hard look at today’s app-assisted paradise of digital shopping. The algorithms and data-crunching that make online purchasing so convenient are also changing the nature of the market by shifting power into the hands of the few, with risks to competition, our democratic ideals, and our overall well-being.
Vranesh's Colorado Water Law is the second edition of the massive three-volume treatise written by the late George Vranesh and published in 1987. Editors James N. Corbridge Jr. and Teresa A. Rice have reduced the original work from three volumes to one, and they have substantially rewritten and reorganized it to make it more accessible for those involved with and interested in water law and policy. Colorado water law cases decided since 1987, along with relevant federal cases, have been included; statutory material has also been updated and discussed; and recent emerging doctrines in Colorado water law are analyzed in detail, with appropriate citations. Much of the historical detail in the original work has been retained, but it has been shortened to increase the book's utility as a guide to Colorado water law as it exists today.
Vranesh's Colorado Water Law serves as a reference resource for attorneys practicing in the field of water law, as well as a thorough introduction for those just getting started in the subject. It will also be a helpful reference work for individuals and institutions interested in the acquisition and distribution of water: municipalities, water conservancy districts, irrigation organizations, water engineers, and hydrologists.
A volume in the Social Science Frontiers series, which are occasional publications reviewing new fields for social science development. These occasional publications seek to summarize recent work being done in particular areas of social research, to review new developments in the field, and to indicate issues needing further investigation. The publications are intended to help orient those concerned with developing current research programs and broadening the use of social science in the policy-making process. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Frontiers Series