Professor of Law and Marbury Research Professor Max Stearns published the groundbreaking text Public Choice Concepts and Applications in Law (West Publishing) this month (coauthored with George Mason University Foundation Professor Todd J. Zywicki).
"Public choice is the application of economic tools to the subject matter of political science," said Professor Stearns. He further explained that "the book combines tools from interest group theory, social choice theory, and elementary game theory (along with some price theory) and applies these tools to a broad range of topics within public and private law and to various lawmaking institutions."
Professor Saul Levmore, who has taught from the book while it was still in draft, describes it as "a terrific introductory book for law students and a valuable resource for professors, whether veterans or newcomers to the field." Levmore adds that the book "allow[s] the reader to think about courts, legislatures, voters, and agencies in ways unimagined by anyone unfamiliar with the basic tools of public choice," and that "There is nothing like it." Professor Lee Epstein states that the authors "haven't merely filled the void; they've produced an instant classic -- a volume that will engage students and their professors alike." Professor Dennis Mueller explains that "This excellent book contains a masterful survey of the public choice literature that is relevant to the study of legal institutions -- median voter theorem, cycling, rent seeking, and bureaucracy, among other topics."
"[The book] is particularly welcomed for its comprehensive view of the legal universe," Professor Mark Graber wrote in a recent blog posting. "The result is a fabulous guide to public choice thinking and scholarship that will inspire both students and professors to connect many dots in the legal world."
The course book includes a complete set of through-written materials suitable for a two-hour stand-alone course or seminar in Public Choice, as a substitute vehicle for a course in law and economics, or as a supplement in such doctrinal courses as Administrative Law, Jurisprudence, or Legislation. This book should not only be of interest to students (and professors) of law, but also to those in such fields as economics, political science, and business who are interested in gaining a deeper appreciation for political dynamics affecting the formation of law and public policy. The text provides the reader with a background in the methodological tools of public choice and with a rich set of both positive and normative applications carefully selected from scholarship relevant to public and private law. The book is accompanied by a dedicated webpage that allows instructors to select among additional topical course materials. The authors have also produced a teacher's manual.
Professor Stearns joined Maryland Law in 2006, after spending 2005 at the Law School as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. Professor Stearns was a faculty member at the George Mason University School of Law from 1992 through 2006. He has taught as a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan School of Law; the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law; the Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; and the Griffith Law School, Brisbane, Australia. His articles appear in such leading law journals including the Yale Law Journal, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the California Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, and the Vanderbilt Law Review.
Stearns is also the author of Constitutional Process: A Social Choice Analysis of Supreme Court Decision Making (University of Michigan Press, paperback edition 2002), the first book length analysis of how collective decision-making processes shape doctrines and case outcomes in the United States Supreme Court.