The Brief: Law School News and Events

Bookshelf

Unpopular Privacy What Must We Hide?
(Oxford University Press)
In what Anita A. Allen refers to as the "age of revelation" symbolized by Wikileaks and Facebook, can the government impose privacy we don't want? It can, it does, and according to Anita L. Allen, it may need to do more of it. Privacy is a foundational good, Allen argues, a necessary tool in the liberty-lover's kit for a successful life. A nation committed to personal freedom must be prepared to mandate privacy protections for its people, whether they eagerly embrace them or not.

This unique book draws attention to privacies of seclusion, concealment, confidentiality and data-protection undervalued by their intended beneficiaries and targets – and outlines the best reasons for imposing them. Allen looks at laws designed to keep website operators from collecting personal information, laws that force strippers to wear thongs, and the myriad employee and professional confidentiality rules – including insider trading laws – that require strict silence about matters whose disclosure could earn us small fortunes. She shows that such laws recognize the extraordinary importance of dignity, trust and reputation, helping to preserve social, economic and political options throughout a lifetime.

Why the Law Is So Perverse
(University of Chicago Press)
Conundrums, puzzles, and perversities: these are Leo Katz's stock-in-trade, and in Why the Law Is So Perverse, he focuses on four fundamental features of our legal system, all of which seem to not make sense on some level and to demand explanation. First, legal decisions are essentially made in an either/or fashion – guilty or not guilty, liable or not liable, either it's a contract or it's not – but reality is rarely as clear-cut. Why aren't there any in-between verdicts? Second, the law is full of loopholes. No one seems to like them, but somehow they cannot be made to disappear. Why? Third, legal systems are loath to punish certain kinds of highly immoral conduct while prosecuting other far less pernicious behaviors. What makes a villainy a felony? Finally, why does the law often prohibit what are sometimes called win-win transactions, such as organ sales or surrogacy contracts? Katz asserts that these perversions arise out of a cluster of logical difficulties related to multicriterial decision making.

The discovery of these difficulties dates back to Condorcet's eighteenth-century exploration of voting rules, which marked the beginning of what we know today as social choice theory. Condorcet's voting cycles, Arrow's Theorem, Sen's Libertarian Paradox – every seeming perversity of the law turns out to be the counterpart of one of the many voting paradoxes that lie at the heart of social choice. Katz's lucid explanations and apt examples show why they resist any easy resolutions

Reasoning from Race
Harvard University Press)
In the 1960s and 1970s, analogies between sex and race discrimination became potent weapons in the battle for women's rights, as feminists borrowed rhetoric and legal arguments from the civil rights movement. Serena Mayeri's Reasoning from Race is the first book to explore the development and consequences of this key feminist strategy.

Mayeri uncovers the history of an often misunderstood connection at the heart of American antidiscrimination law. Her study details how a tumultuous political and legal climate transformed the links between race and sex equality, civil rights and feminism. Battles over employment discrimination, school segregation, reproductive freedom, affirmative action, and constitutional change reveal the promise and peril of reasoning from race – and offer a vivid picture of Pauli Murray, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and others who defined feminists' agenda.

Looking beneath the surface of Supreme Court opinions to the deliberations of feminist advocates, their opponents, and the legal decision makers who heard   or chose not to hear   their claims, Reasoning from Race showcases previously hidden struggles that continue to shape the scope and meaning of equality under the law.