As interpreters of law, America’s federal and state judges exert a significant impact on the evolution of economic and social policy. However, while judges typically reach the bench with a sophisticated understanding of the law, they often have little familiarity with economics and struggle to identify tradeoffs and unintended consequences created by particular legal decisions or public policies. A basic knowledge of economics principles, however, can help judges better understand the long-term implications of their decisions, thereby improving the development of the law and benefitting America’s free enterprise system.
For over four decades, the LEC’s Judicial Education Program has helped train the nation’s judges and justices in basic economics, accounting, statistics, regulatory analysis, and other related disciplines. The Program offers intellectually rigorous, balanced, and timely education programs to the nation’s judges and justices in the belief that the fundamental principles of a free and just society depend on a knowledgeable and well educated judiciary. To date, over 5,000 federal and state judges from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including four current U.S. Supreme Court Justices, have participated in at least one of the LEC’s judicial education programs. As one JEP participant put it: the courses have “made us better at our work and improved the administration of justice.”
Course offerings include:
Economics Institute for Judges: The Economics Institute for Judges is the Judicial Education Program’s flagship course offering. Through intensive classroom lectures and discussions, judges are given a grounding in economics, finance, statistics, and the scientific method. The practical relevance of these disciplines is emphasized through the analysis of legal cases. The judges leave equipped with a basic understanding of the economics principles that will aid them in the performance of their jobs and enhance the judicial system.
Advanced Law & Economics Institute for Judges: The Advanced Law & Economics Institute for Judges builds on the concepts learned in our Economics Institutes for Judges, providing more in-depth coverage and including advanced topics in areas such as accounting, finance, environmental economics, and scientific methodology.
Public Law: Economic Concepts and Cases: Public Law: Economic Concepts and Cases focuses on the application of economic concepts to numerous areas of public law. Topics for discussion include market imperfections; taxation; risk and cost-benefit analysis; employment and labor law; crime and punishment; environmental policy; economic liberties; climate change and public nuisance; and political speech. The course format includes a mixture of lectures and analysis of related cases.
Judicial Seminar on the Political Economy of Economic Freedom: The Judicial Seminar on the Political Economy of Economic Freedom is a new 2021 offering from the Law & Economics Center at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. Against the backdrop of fundamental principles regarding the maintenance of economic freedom, the proper limits of government authority, and capitalism unhindered by arbitrary or expansive power, potential judicial limitations on the administrative state will be discussed in this seminar framework. Reading assignments will include classical liberal works as well as recent applications of those contributions to current issues.
Judicial Symposia: The symposia provide a focused analysis of current legal and public policy issues in a dynamic format that combines lectures and debates over periods as short as two days to as long as a week. Leading attorneys, economists, and public policy experts provide a basic grounding in the fundamentals of pressing legal issues and debate them from opposing viewpoints.
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