Excellent Review of Todd Zywicki’s and Max Stearns New Book on Public Choice and the Law

University of Florida lawprof D. Daniel Sokol has published a very good (and extremely favorable) review of co-conspirator Todd Zywicki’s important recent book Public Choice Concepts and Applications in Law (coauthored with Maxwell Stearns), in the Michigan Law Review.

Danny writes that the book is “likely to be recognized as the leading work on the subject for some time.” Having read it myself, I tend to agree. It’s a great introduction to and analysis of the literature on public choice and its implications for law. The book drives home the implications of the simple but important public choice insights that government actions can be understood using the same tools of economic analysis that economists have long applied to the private sector, and that political behavior is often just as self-interested as market behavior. I would also note that the book has an interesting political balance, since Stearns is generally liberal and certainly well to the left of Todd.

Danny’s review essay also considers some possible additional applications of public choice to legal issues that were not covered by Stearns and Zywicki, especially in the field of international law. As he points out, scholars in the international law field have made very little use of public choice analysis, even though international legal institutions have serious public choice problems that may be even worse than those of domestic political processes in Western democracies. John McGinnis and I have sought to help close this gap in the literature in our work on international human rights law and domestic incorporation of international law.