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Weekly Roundup: May 5, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, fresh off his stint as the Associate Administrator of OIRA, Sabeel Rahman laid out some of the highlights from the Biden Administration’s long-awaited overhaul of the regulatory review process. After outlining several substantial revisions to OMB Circular A-4 – a new and lower discount rate, an updated discussion of the “baselines” against which new proposals are compared, an expanded discussion of market power and concentration effects, and a new section on distributional analysis – he reflected on the fact that this overhaul is part of a broader effort by the Biden Administration to rethink how agencies operate. As he writes, “This perhaps is the biggest implication of the reforms to the OIRA process. A post-neoliberal, inclusive political economy requires a transformation not just in the substance of public policy, but also in its process, in the machinery of how policy is designed, analyzed, coordinated, and ultimately made impactful. A key task for LPE and LPE-adjacent thinkers and practitioners will be further developing this intersection between specific areas of law and policy, and the public institutions needed to effectuate and institutionalize those new ideas.”

On Wednesday, Yanbai Andrea Wang continued our symposium on China and the Political Economy of the International Legal Order by examining the significant divergence in the willingness of Chinese and American courts to exercise jurisdiction in transnational cases. In comparison with American courts, which increasingly adjudicate a narrow set of transnational cases, Chinese courts rarely forfeit authority over transnational cases, a development that is reshaping the landscape of transnational litigation. China’s appetite for taking on transnational cases is calling attention to the advantages of exercising jurisdiction over a case — advantages that can dictate the outcome of cases in favorable ways, and which play an underappreciated role in the configuration of the international legal order.

And on Thursday, Alex Wang concluded the symposium by exploring how empathy can break down the dehumanizing binaries structuring much US-China analysis. China has long been understood (and misunderstood) through the presuppositions and biases of the West. From canonical political philosophers, who have debated whether China represents an “oriental despotism,” to contemporary scholars who question the very existence of law in China, the study of the country is rife with analytical blind spots. To escape this fate, Wang argues, scholars should adopt an empathetic approach, an openness to different possibilities in legal and non-legal ordering that does not take the necessity of formal Western legal institutions as a given. As he writes, “Empathy is a value not typically discussed in comparative legal analysis, but it deserves attention, especially in our current political moment. The payoffs are, at minimum, a more complex understanding of our research subject, but also avoidance of the problems of political overreach and racial discrimination that arise out of a distorted analytical lens.”

In LPE Land

To celebrate May Day, we highlighted some of our favorite labor pieces from the past year.

Also on May Day, Common Wealth’s Amelia Horgan spoke to Gabriel Winant about social reproduction and class composition in the twenty-first century.

Over at Balls and Strikes, Molly Coleman explained how recent ethics scandals at the Supreme Court, escalating attacks on abortion access, and ongoing interference with agencies’ ability to do their job all come back to the same thing: no one Court should have all that power.

On the latest episode of the Current Affairs podcast, Julie Suk discussed her new book, After Misogyny, and why patriarchy persists despite progress in formal legal equality.

And, in case you somehow missed it, the latest issue of the New Left Review is not to be missed, with essays by Tim Barker and Aaron Benanav.

Finally, in the most recent issue of the Georgetown Law Review, a student note by David Leeds endeavors to analyze U.S. election law through a LPE lens.