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Weekly Roundup: July 14, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, we gathered a cast of heavy hitters – Louise Seamster, Blake Emerson, Marshall Steinbaum, Ryann Liebenthal, Jonathan Glater, Persis Yu, and our man in Tuscaloosa Luke Herrine – to offer their initial reactions to the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the Biden administration’s student debt relief program. They discuss, inter alia, the Court’s imaginary harms, séances with a bygone Congress, whether we should be satisfied with Biden’s response, and where we go from here. (And, sure, you could just read Luke, Marshall, and Louise in the NYT discussing the subject, but why get your news from a second-tier publication).

On Tuesday, Brian Highsmith wrote about two separate yet related crises in Jackson, Mississippi: a failed water system that left approximately 150,000 residents without access to safe drinking water, and the takeover of the city’s police and court functions by white officials in the state government. Assessed together, he argues, these two episodes offer lessons about the challenges of local self-governance in a country awash with material inequality and racial segregation, as well as the importance of pursuing political equality across as well as within jurisdictions. As he writes, “On questions involving economic redistribution, local control can often undermine the ability of vulnerable communities to translate their preferences into policy outcomes. Although devolution to smaller (demographically ‘sorted’) jurisdictions may indeed provide marginalized groups with the ability to freely select from among available policy options, that menu is structurally constrained by the institutional arrangement.”

And on Thursday, Samuel Bagg examined two fallacies of democratic design. LPE scholars and fellow travelers often call for a more democratic organization of power in our society. However, in specifying what this entails at the level of institutions, he argues, well-intentioned reformers are frequently misled by two widespread but mistaken assumptions about what it means to deepen democracy – the idea that more participation is necessarily more democratic, and the idea that democratizing decision-making within firms, political parties, and other mid-level institutions will enhance the quality of democracy in society at large. As Bagg explains, though such reforms may look or feel like they are deepening democracy, they are are no less susceptible to capture by elite interests.

In LPE Land

Looking to live the high life? The next LPE x NYC happy hour is taking place on Tuesday, July 18th from 5:30 – 7:30pm at Nowadays in Brooklyn! Come hang out and meet other folks in New York interested in LPE!

What if you don’t want just one happy hour, but forty each week? You’re in luck: the Harvard LPE Program is currently hiring for two postdoc fellowships. The first position is the LPE Academic Fellowship, which runs from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2026 and is open to holders of a JD or SJD from a U.S. law school. The second position is the Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Political Economy of Law, Technology, and Labor, which runs from August 1, 2024 to July 31, 2025 and is open to graduates of JD programs, or an equivalent terminal degree in law, as well as PhD graduates from a relevant social science discipline. Applications for both positions are due September 1, 2023.

In September, the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy is holding an in-person and virtual conference on Climate Change, featuring several friends of the Blog, including Douglas Kysar, Madison Condon, Alyssa Battistoni, and Shelley Welton.

You’ve seen her in concert, now relive in the magic at home: watch Katrina Forrester’s 2023 Quentin Skinner Lecture: “‘In and Against the State’: Revolutionary Feminism During Deindustrialisation.”

The Consortium on the American Political Economy is pleased to announce the line-up for its 3rd Annual Research Conference on the American Political Economy! The conference, which takes place July 31-Aug 2 (on zoom), will discuss cutting-edge political economy research and feature talks by several LPE Blog authors, including Sabeel Rahman, Brian Highsmith, and Kathleen Thelen.

In the Los Angeles Times, Francesca Procaccini and Nikolas Guggenberger argue that recent power grabs by the Supreme Court have been enabled by Congress’s eagerness to cede power and retreat from its constitutional role.