The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy Holiday Gifts—2021

Gift ideas for the VC readers in your life!


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:

Randy Barnett's The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit (coauthored with Evan Bernick) and the revised edition of own Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom. Barnett and Bernick's book is a major contribution to our understanding of what many consider the single most important amendment to the Constitution. It may well reshape our understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment. I know it had that effect on me!

Jonathan Adler's edited volume  Marijuana Federalism was published last year. It has everything you ever wanted to know about the relationship between federalism and pot, and 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. The revised edition addresses several new issues, including arguments that migration must be constrained to prevent the spread of  dangerous diseases such as Covid-19, claims that immigrants might generate a political backlash that threatens democracy, and the impact of remote work on foot voting. As with the original edition, 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.

Among my other 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. 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. 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 holiday season!