• Elected v. Appointed: Senators & the Seventeenth Amendment [POLICYbrief]
    Articles,  Blog

    Elected v. Appointed: Senators & the Seventeenth Amendment [POLICYbrief]

    The framers had two things in mind with the original composition of the Senate who they essentially thought that in contract to the House, which would always be populist and sort of defined by hardscrabble political campaigning, the Senate instead would elevate the best people; business people, war heroes, lawyers; and so they would bring probity and judgment into the body. The House and the Senate were two parts of one whole, the U.S. Congress, and the House was elected every two years. They had smaller districts, and people could register their satisfaction or dissatisfaction pretty easily. They wanted to make sure that popular sentiment didn’t really determine whatever the…

  • Articles

    Regulatory Takings Law: Penn Central v. City of New York [No. 86]

    It’s very common for landowners to bring takings challenges against zoning laws and against environmental restrictions. In all these cases, the landowners say that they’ve suffered a loss of property because they have right to use their property. The major case in this field is a case called Penn Central Transportation versus the City of New York. The company, Penn Central, was complaining that New York City was telling it it could not build an office building on top of Grand Central Railway, and Penn Central wanted to argue, “you have to look at the air rights that we had in our land, and those have been totally extinguished.” A…

  • Articles

    Elected v. Appointed: Senators & the Seventeenth Amendment [POLICYbrief]

    The framers had two things in mind with the original composition of the Senate who they essentially thought that in contract to the House, which would always be populist and sort of defined by hardscrabble political campaigning, the Senate instead would elevate the best people; business people, war heroes, lawyers; and so they would bring probity and judgment into the body. The House and the Senate were two parts of one whole, the U.S. Congress, and the House was elected every two years. They had smaller districts, and people could register their satisfaction or dissatisfaction pretty easily. They wanted to make sure that popular sentiment didn’t really determine whatever the…

  • Articles

    The Clean Power Plan: The EPA & Climate Change Policy

    President Obama issued an executive order containing a climate action plan that directed EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that produce electricity. The Clean Power Plan was the culmination of that executive action. It was a regulation promulgated under EPA’s authority to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that would be combusted for power in favor of renewable sources. Traditionally, most electricity in the United States was made through combusting coal or natural gas and power plants. The Clean Power Plan required a significant reduction in the amount of energy that could be generated in that way. It’s not really a pollution control program, it is an…

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    Regulating Rideshare: Uber & Lyft in Austin, TX

    I moved my family to Austin in 2000. The population since we got here has doubled. Austin has, for the size of the city, one of the most mediocre transit systems in America. Traditionally, regulation has been put in place for all the best of intentions. I’ve been a Council Member since January of 2015. My concern was getting in and saying, look, let’s get some technical solutions to fixing the traffic congestion. It’s meant to lower prices or offer us more choices or provide higher quality goods or solve information problems. But instead the new City Council chose to focus on Uber and Lyft. When Uber and Lyft first…

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    What Power Does Congress Have to Regulate Commerce? [No. 86]

    The founders were extremely concerned with the promotion and regulation of commerce. Commerce being the buying and selling, trading, movement and transport of goods and people from one place to another, which were necessary in order to provide for economic prosperity. There was, of course, three types of commerce that were covered by the national powers of the Congress, one was the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Secondly, the power to regulate commerce among the several states, and thirdly commerce with Indian tribes, leaving a fourth category of commerce that was not given to Congress to regulate and that was commerce that existed wholly within a state. Once…

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    Contenders in the Debate over the Construction Zone [No. 86]

    One of the central questions about the extent of the construction zone, is the extent to which the Constitution has a legal meaning. Which is necessarily a technical meaning. The concepts are probably polished, as it were, compared to the concepts in ordinary language. The question is how was the Constitution understood? What kind of meaning did it have at that time? Maybe the context was thin, maybe it was thick. That’s I think a major debate in Originalism that’s going on right now. So, let me tell you about some of the contenders in that debate. To begin with someone who has the thinnest view of originalist meaning is…

  • Articles

    The Clean Power Plan: The EPA & Climate Change Policy

    President Obama issued an executive order containing a climate action plan that directed EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that produce electricity. The Clean Power Plan was the culmination of that executive action. It was a regulation promulgated under EPA’s authority to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that would be combusted for power in favor of renewable sources. Traditionally, most electricity in the United States was made through combusting coal or natural gas and power plants. The Clean Power Plan required a significant reduction in the amount of energy that could be generated in that way. It’s not really a pollution control program, it is an…

  • Introduction to the Article I Initiative
    Articles,  Blog

    Introduction to the Article I Initiative

    “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” –U.S. Constitution, Article I. Article I is the legislature, the Congress, and there’s been great concern in recent years that Congress has ceased to perform the functions that the Constitution assigns to it. I think there’s a widespread understanding that it’s not living up to its constitutional role. So, has Congress been faithful to the design of the Constitution? Congress is an institution worthy of study, and it’s worth thinking about the Congress as a whole, and not just thinking about these particular issues that…

  • Frank v. Gaos [SCOTUSbrief]
    Articles,  Blog

    Frank v. Gaos [SCOTUSbrief]

    The case was originally brought by Pamela Gaos and a couple of other named plaintiffs. They objected to Google’s, uh, business model when it comes to internet searches. They filed the claim on behalf of themselves and 129 million Americans, about 40% of the American public. There was a second motion to dismiss pending when Gaos and Google came up with the current settlement that is the subject of the dispute. That settlement was approved over the objections of Ted Frank and Melissa Holyoak. Frank and Holyoak objected to the settlement agreement because the settlement agreement gives no money to the individual victims of the case who were allegedly hurt…