Your assignment will focus on the problem of whether the law, or legal rules, should take into account “equity” (or “distributional”) problems that might exist in society. For ex, most of us take for granted that at least some aspects of public policy will be aimed at helping the “disadvantaged” or “underrepresented.” What these words mean is more complicated than we may expect. The problem is should the state structure legal rules such that certain groups are advantaged or assisted at the expense of others and why (or why not).
Think about it:
• Should lots in life be taken into account in law?
• How important is equity in outcomes? Should the law protect the disadvantaged?
• What is the difference between equal treatment and equal outcomes?
• Forms of discrimination? Should laws impose morality?
The assignment will be written like an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court. An amicus curiae is filed by someone who is not party to the case being decided. Think of it as an advocacy group or third party offering legal arguments for the Court to consider. Unlike a typical amicus curiae brief, there is no specific case in mind. Imagine that some state has passed a law that favors some sub-group over another in either the civil or criminal legal sphere. Your paper must argue for a conclusion on one side of the debate or the other. The will be no fence sitting. Have some conviction. There is no wrong side. So choose the side that you believe has the strongest arguments. You need to argue to the Court, what they should do with the law (should it be allowed to stand or should it be struck down?).
The paper will require some research. I would like you to cite economics articles (some good reads include Coase, Stigler, Posner, Buchanan, North, Hayek, Sowell… for more ideas see http://www.econlib.org/library/Topics/law.html and your textbook). DO NOT cite blogs, wiki, and generally unpublished works. Use the library and journal databases like EconLit and JSTOR. You are welcome to cite philosophers, political scientists… I would also like you to cite actual, real life Supreme Court decisions. A great research tool is http://www.oyez.org/, which provides case briefs and allows you to search by topics (equal treatment, equality, equity, fairness…). Try to avoid writing a review of he said/she said and use sources to support your argument. You need to make your own analysis of the problem.
Please employ the standard tools of good and clear writing. Please don’t turn in bad writing and pages of fluff. Be concise and use a logical structure that is easy to follow. If doing a group project, try to avoid stapling together individually written pages that don’t flow. Group projects are actually much more difficult to do well, unless you actually communicate and plan ahead. There are public goods issues at play which you must consider here. If you choose to work in a group, then you can have at most 3 members. You must email me to inform me of your decision to work in a group and the group members before July 13th.
• The word limit is 1500 words (about 6 double spaced pages) and papers must be typed.
• Cite appropriately using MLA format. This includes in-text citations and a reference of works cited at the end of the paper.
• Papers should include a title page, formatted like the ex attached. Structure your paper with sections and headings. Include page numbers.
• Basic format applies: Double spaced, 12 point times new roman font, standard 1 inch margins... No fancy covers, fonts, or colors.