The Timing of Lawmaking
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The Timing of Lawmaking

Edited by Frank Fagan and Saul Levmore

Legal reasoning, pronouncements of judgment, the design and implementation of statutes, and even constitution-making and discourse all depend on timing. This compelling study examines the diverse interactions between law and time, and provides important perspectives on how law's architecture can be understood through time. The book revisits older work on legal transitions and breaks new ground on timing rules, especially with respect to how judges, legislators and regulators use time as a tool when devising new rules. At its core, The Timing of Lawmaking goes directly to the heart of the most basic of legal debates: when should we respect the past, and when should we make a clean break for the future?
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Chapter 8: Interest groups and the durability of law

Saul Levmore


At any given point, lawmakers and interest groups benefit if the laws they pass are long-lived, or durable. The quest for durability explains some kinds of licensing, but a more important conclusion is that it explains a preference for spending programs, rather than mere regulation. Expenditures create endowment effects, to be sure, but spending programs are especially appealing to their beneficiaries when they bring about physical assets that future lawmakers will have no reason to dismantle. In an earlier era, the quest for durability might have generated overinvestments, as monumentalist rulers sought to leave their marks. In modern times, durability can be obtained through social programs as well as construction projects. In some settings durable projects can be reversed with targeted taxes, but recapturing previously awarded benefits is more difficult. Keywords: durability, interest groups, retroactivity, public goods, clawbacks

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