Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fincham on The Parthenon Dispute

My STCL colleague Derek Fincham has a new article on SSRN entitled The Parthenon Sculptures and Cultural Justice, which I recommend to my readers - it's a very interesting subject.  Here is the abstract:
From government and philosophy to art drama and culture, the ancient Athenians, as most everyone knows, gave future generations so much. Yet the pinnacle of their artistic achievement, the Parthenon, remains a damaged and incomplete work of art. 2012 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the last removal of works of art from the Parthenon. That taking was ordered by an English diplomat known to history as Lord Elgin, and it reminds us that cultures create lasting monuments. But not equally.  Cultures which remove the artistic achievements of other nations have increasingly been confronted with uncomfortable questions about how these objects were acquired. Nations of origin are increasingly deciding to press claims for repatriation of works taken long ago. They proceed through history mindful of the irresistible genius of their forebears have created and are unwilling to cease their calls for return.  The majority of the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon in Greece now are currently on display in the British Museum in London. The Greek government and cultural heritage advocates, have been asking for reunification of these sculptures in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. Greece has offered a number of concessions, but the British Museum and the British Government have repeatedly refused to seriously discuss reunification.

Mounting pressure on the British Museum, and the inescapable fact that the Parthenon was an ancient unified work of art both mean that the Parthenon marbles will either eventually be returned to Greece or subject to an endless repatriation debate. Here I offer a series of principles which the Greeks and the British Museum can take to jointly create a just return. Because the way the British Museum and Greece resolve this argument will have much to say for the future of the management of our collective cultural heritage.

Ann Romney and Arianna Huffington: Separated at Birth?

So, am I the only one who thinks Ann Romney and Arianna Huffington look alike? I'm not sure I could tell them apart if they were standing next to each other and used the same shade of hair color...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Another Reason I like the Law Review System Better than Peer Review

I keep hearing other law profs say that the peer review system is vastly superior to the law review system for academic articles, and I always wonder if they really know much about the problems with peer review academic is another reason why I like the law review system better: 

  The article is about scientific journals rejecting papers due to excessive citations to articles in rival journals. The rejection is apparently for the crass, strategic purpose of preventing rival journals from getting more citations and thereby climbing in the rankings of "scholarly impact" lists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NEW ARTICLE DRAFT - Codification & Legislative Transaction Costs

My writing project this summer is now taking shape as a draft manuscript, and is available for download on SSRN.  I would really appreciate current or former students, colleagues, and friends downloading it and giving me feedback on it, as I plan to spend the Fall revising it and then submit it to journals in February.  The title/link is Codification and Transaction Costs, and here is the tentative abstract:
The consensus view in the academic literature has been that rules present lower transaction costs – in the form of information costs – for the courts and citizenry, when compared to standards. Rules are more specific and detailed, so there is less uncertainty and less need for sophisticated interpretation. At the same time, the prevailing wisdom holds, specific rules impose higher enactment costs for legislatures. Systematic codification, which became of universal feature of American statutes in the twentieth century, seems to invert this relationship, lowering transaction costs for legislatures; for the citizenry, codification increases legal information costs as a result of the proliferation of statutes, which is a consequence of the lower transaction costs for rulemakers (i.e., legislators and regulatory agencies). Even though an individual statute may be clearer and more precise in a codified system, the sheer number of rules, and the quantity of details (their aggregate volume) present information costs that outweigh the benefits of the greater precision. On the legislative side, lower enactment costs resulting from codification make it easier for special interest groups to obtain their desired legislation; codification also facilitates legislative borrowing, which diminishes the “laboratories of democracy” phenomenon. For the courts, codification has impacted the way judges interpret statutes, focusing more on the meaning of individual words than on the overall policy goals of enactment. We have misconceived the benefits and costs of codification, overlooked the real tradeoffs involved, and have sometimes obtained the exact opposite of the result that legal reforms intended.

New Semester...

This semester I am teaching Administrative Law and the Law & Economics Seminar at my institution (South Texas College of Law) - two courses I really enjoy.  I'm a little disappointed that the enrollment is so high - I have 81 students in Administrative Law, and I'm fairly certain there are not that many students interested in the subject (lack of interest from a large portion of the students makes teaching the course more difficult). I've noticed an inverse correlation of class discussion to the size of the class - we had active class discussions  last summer in my Administrative Law course, which had about 15 students, but so far this semester (two weeks in) most of the students sit in stone silence while I prattle on about the nondelegation doctrine and such.

I am also teaching Administrative Law at the University of Houston Law Center, but classes don't start there until next week.

For students wanting to find me in my office this semester, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days, especially late mornings and early afternoons.  Mondays and Wednesdays are less predictable - I don't have classes on those days, so I often write in my office at home instead of my office at school.