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Weekly Roundup: September 8, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, Samuel Moyn rang in the new school year with some theorizing about the need to theorize. Contrasting the CLS and LPE movements, Moyn notes that the latter has been reticent to define itself by commitments to any particular theoretical foundation. As he writes, “insofar as LPE has confronted the prescriptions of law and economics—arguing, for instance, that efficiency should not crowd out other values—it has resisted offering a more systematic normative theory. And it has shown essentially no interest in articulating the general social theory of law on which its pluralistic normative claims rest.” Such quietism, he notes, can have strategic advantages, but it makes “it harder to teach LPE as an intellectual alternative for theoretical allegiance for the undecided, or just for those who want to identify the terms of choice.” Responses forthcoming.

On Wednesday, Greg Baltz and Shakeer Rahman considered the limits of the analogy between labor unions and tenant unions. Though many legal scholars have been drawn to the idea that tenant unions, backed by the right legislative framework, could serve a function akin to labor unions, Baltz and Rahman argue that because housing is a commodity that tenants consume rather than produce, tenants would be better served by universal protections, such as price controls and possessory rights, than by the right to good faith negotiation. As they write, “there is no reason to subject these protections to bargaining rather than just universalizing them. Why bargain over renewal leases or rely on anti-retaliation provisions when renewal leases can be obligatory? Why bargain over conditions when there are poorly enforced housing codes for which tenants could instead seek private rights of action, fee shifting, and the ability to aggregate claims? Why bargain against face recognition surveillance in hallways when a legislature can make it illegal?” While such legal protections don’t reduce the need for organizing, but they do shift the terrain for bargaining and give tenants more leverage.

And on Thursday, Maryam Jamshidi argued that the recent spate of violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank presents a potential if unexpected opportunity: to turn the tables on terrorism torts. Laws that allow private parties to sue individuals, organizations, and foreign countries for acts of terrorism in U.S. courts have long been used to harass so-called terrorist groups in Palestine and those purportedly supporting them. However, using those same laws, Palestinian American victims of recent attacks could bring tort suits in U.S. courts against charities and other third parties—particularly those based in the United States—who support Israeli settlers. Though, as she outlines, there are several reasons to doubt that such claims would succeed, she argues that the suits would nevertheless be worthwhile, as they would place U.S. organizations on notice that their support for Israeli settler groups could place them in the litigation cross-hairs.

In LPE Land

CFP: The LPE Project will be cosponsoring the Neoliberalism and Capitalism as Keywords in Contemporary History Conference, which will take place at Yale University, February 23-25, 2024, with keynotes by Isabella Weber and David Edgerton. Abstracts due by 24 October 2023.

CFP: ClassCrits invites participants to submit applications to participate in the 14th Annual ClassCrits conference, “Demanding Justice in the Face of Retrenchment,” to be held on February 9-10, 2024, at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Proposals due by October 15.

CFP: The Critical Legal Collective’s Inaugural Conference – Organizing for Democracy and Liberation: The Right to Learn, The Right to Teach, the Right to Thrive – will take place at Duke University School of Law on November 10-12, 2023. Applications for participation due by Sept 15.

In Dissent, Veena Dubal argues that Glacier Northwest was not a crisis averted but another step in the right’s plan to stifle labor power.

In The New Republic, Sandeep Vaheesan and Brian Callaci explain how the FTC can fulfill their expressed commitment to protecting workers from employer power.

On his substack, Tim Barker offers an incisive review of Gary Gerstle’s The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, which doubles as an excellent primer for anyone interested in how our understanding of neoliberalism has shifted in recent years.

13/13 Seminars has unveiled its new public seminars for 2023-2024 on Coöperism, in which they will ask: What are the most promising forms of cooperation that can be harnessed to build a more sustainable, equal, and just society? 

The Michigan Journal of Law & Society is currently accepting Articles, Student Scholarship, and Book Reviews for its Third Issue. Submissions due by November 27, 2023.