Cass Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School and the author of more than a dozen books, including After the Rights Revolution, Designing Democracy and most recently, The Cost-Benefit State.

Recent Articles

Racism and Race-Conscious Remedies

An exchange on whether American social and economic policy should emphasize special programs for blacks and other racial minorities or a more universal approach aimed equally at disadvantaged whites.

In my essay in the 1982 Supreme Court review, to which Professor Tollett refers, I did not say that the original purpose of the Reconstruction Amendments is probably no longer worth taking seriously. Instead, I said that the notion that the amendments are limited to race, and do not also apply elsewhere, is probably no longer worth taking seriously. The difference is not technical; these are entirely different propositions. To say that the equal protection clause covers not simply race discrimination but also (for example) sex discrimination is to say something that fits with its broad text. It is not at all to deny that the fundamental purpose of the clause is to counteract the subordination of blacks. On this point, Professor Tollett and I are in basic agreement. In my hypothetical Supreme Court agenda, laid out in "Constitutional Politics and the Conservative Court" ( TAP , Spring 1990), I try to outline a set of areas that a different court might have addressed, and on which this...

Does the Supreme Court Matter?

An exchange on the significance of the courts in the achievement of civil rights.

How important is the Supreme Court to the advancement of individual rights? Very important, many would contend, when the people whose rights are being advanced lack political power. Our constitutional democracy rests, after all, on the notion that people disdained and disfavored by the majority can still find justice before an independent Supreme Court. Some critics and historians, however, have always downplayed the Court's role. They argue that progress apparently flowing from Court decisions would have come eventually, or even sooner, through the political process, and that reform might been more effective or better crafted if the elected branches had brought it about. Much of this criticism has come from those on the right who condemn the Supreme Court protections of individual rights as "judicial activism." In a different vein, some on the left see the Court as an elitist institution and view grass-roots politics as the true source of social progress. In "Constitutional Politics...

Remaking Regulation

Regulation of the air, the water, and the workplace has made things much better. But we could achieve even better results by regulating with incentives.

The sudden collapse of communism has produced a nearly worldwide outburst of enthusiasm for private property; free markets, and electoral democracy. In the United States, and perhaps in the West as a whole, the collapse has also led to an understandable but disquieting degree of self-congratulation and complacency. Understandable, and in a way even justified, because the events of the past year have dispelled any lingering doubts about the risks of collectivism to both liberty and prosperity; disquieting, because the failure of communism is hardly a reason for unquestioning satisfaction with all our own institutions, let alone for a belief in laissez faire. To free-market conservatives, however, communism's failure seems to validate their own arguments for the irredeemable failure of the more limited government regulation adopted in the West. For the last decade and longer in the United States, they have been particularly critical of the new "social" regulation concerned with health,...