Monday, December 13, 2010

Experiments with Law

An interesting article in today's Boston Globe (here) promotes Yale Law Professor Ian Ayre's idea to test laws experimentally on a randomized sample population to gauge the effects prior to applying them to the broader population. Doing so would almost certainly result in the improvement of legal rules (except for the many occasions when legislators enact laws as signaling devices with little concern for actual legal outcomes).

The article addresses some of the interesting and important questions raised by Ayre's suggestion, including how such a social-scientific approach to law-making would comport with the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. If an individual is selected to participate in a random sample of the population to pay a tax rate higher than other, similarly situated individuals are required to pay, would that not be unconstitutional?

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