Volokh Conspiracy Holiday Gifts—2020

VC-related gifts for the whole family - and an opportunity to benefit charities helping refugees.


The holiday season is now upon us! If you are looking for possible gifts for the loyal Volokh Conspiracy readers in your life, what could better than books by VC bloggers?

VC contributors published two new books this year: Jonathan Adler's  Marijuana Federalism and my own Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom.

Jonathan's outstanding edited volume has everything you ever wanted to know about the relationship between federalism and pot. It includes contributions by leading scholars in several different disciplines.

Free to Move makes the case for expanding opportunities for people to "vote with their feet" in federal systems, the private sector, and through international migration. I describe key advantages of foot voting over conventional ballot box voting, and explain how breaking down barriers to foot voting can massively increase freedom and opportunity for millions of people around the world. I am donating 50% of all royalties from the book to charities benefiting refugees, who - sadly - are in more need than ever in this difficult time. The Introduction to Free to Move (which includes an overview of the rest) is available for free here.

Among my favorite books by VC authors are Randy Barnett's Restoring the Lost Constitution, David Bernstein's Rehabilitating Lochner, Dale Carpenter, Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, Jonathan Adler's Business and the Roberts Court, Josh Blackman's Unprecedented and Unraveled, and Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing.

Randy's book is one of the best recent works on originalism and constitutional legitimacy. It is relevant to ongoing debates over legal interpretation that are sure to heat up again as the Supreme Court considers several major cases in the near future. Rehabilitating Lochner explodes numerous myths about one of the Court's most reviled decisions, one that remains relevant to current debates over "judicial activism." Flagrant Conduct is a great account of a milestone in the history of gay rights. It provides useful historical context for the still-ongoing battles over same-sex marriage and related issues. Jonathan Adler's edited volume is an excellent guide to the issue of whether the Supreme Court favors business interests, and how we might assess claims that it has a pro-business bias. Josh Blackman's two books provide excellent blow-by-blow accounts of the extensive litigation generated by the Affordable Care Act. The two books cover the period up to 2016; I understand that Josh is working on a third volume that will bring us up to the present. Finally, Academic Legal Writing is filled with useful advice, while also somehow managing to make this generally unexciting topic interesting.

The Cambridge Handbook of Classical Liberal Thought (edited by Todd Henderson), includes chapters by three different VC bloggers: Jonathan Adler on environmental policy, David Bernstein on anti-discrimination law, and my own contribution on "voting with your feet."

This list is not intended to slight important books by Ken Anderson, Sam Bray, Orin Kerr, David Kopel, David Post, and other VC bloggers. I have not discussed them only because their subjects are distant from my own areas of expertise.

In the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I will also mention the much-expanded second edition of my own book Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter. Sadly, the problem analyzed in the book played an important role in the 2016 and 2018 elections, and was a factor in 2020, as well.

My most recent book before Free to Move was Eminent Domain: A Comparative Perspective, co-edited with Iljoong Kim and Hojun Lee. It analyzes the use and abuse of eminent domain in a variety of countries around the world.

My other books include The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain, which is the first book by a legal scholar about one of the Supreme Court's most controversial modern decisions, and A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (coauthored with VC-ers Randy Barnett, Jonathan Adler, David Bernstein, Orin Kerr, and David Kopel). Conspiracy Against Obamacare focuses on the VC's significant role in the Obamacare litigation, and is the only book that includes contributions by six different VC bloggers. In 2016, the University of Chicago Press published an updated paperback edition of the The Grasping Hand, which incorporates new material on recent developments such as the growing legal and political struggle over pipeline takings.

I wish all our readers a happy - and safe - Thanksgiving, and a great holiday season. Hopefully, it will be the last marred by the Covid pandemic.

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  1. BREAKING: Trump pardons former national security adviser Mike Flynn

    Poor federal judge who refused to let the state dismiss the charges.

    and unreason. They pinned all sorts of hopes to the Mueller hoax.

    1. Accepting the pardon seems to establish that Flynn is an admitted liar, an admitted felon rescued by grace, and an admitted turncoat. I sense it also eliminates a Fifth Amendment entitlement to refrain from telling the truth as a witness next year — perhaps he will get the choice of ratting on his colleagues or going to jail.

      1. Accepting the pardon seems to establish that Flynn is an admitted liar, an admitted felon rescued by grace, and an admitted turncoat.

        No, it establishes no such thing. People accept pardons for all kinds of reasons. Including the obvious, that they believe they are innocent but cannot prevail.

        I sense it also eliminates a Fifth Amendment entitlement to refrain from telling the truth as a witness next year — perhaps he will get the choice of ratting on his colleagues or going to jail.

        Is this Spider sense or The Force?

        Whether his Fifth Amendment rights have been eliminated depends on the scope of the pardon as related to the scope of what he is being asked about. If he is asked about things outside the scope of his pardon, he still has Fifth Amendment rights. (Although that can be gotten around by granting immunity under Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972).

    2. You were unable to wait and see if there was going to be a post on this subject, so your inane comment would at least be germane?

      1. Trump cultists celebrate whenever he abuses his authority in order to tamper with witnesses and protect himself from prosecution.

        They don’t care about America, or the rule of law.

        I’m certain that responses will be forthcoming about how it’s his prerogative to pardon people, while they completely ignore the fact that he’s doing so for his personal friends so that they have no incentive to testify against him and further expose his crimes.

        I look forward to Trump dying in NY State prison. As much as he might want to, he can’t abuse his authority to avoid that train.

  2. Your gift will be signed by Sasha Volokh, but not by Eugene.

  3. VC-related gifts for the whole family

    And here I thought we were about to be offered a panoply of tasteless tsotschkes with the VC Conspiracy logo on it.

    I had visions of T-shirts, mugs and coasters.

  4. If someone gives you one of these items as a gift, you know that they secret hate you and want you dead.

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