Takings, Legitimacy, and Emergency Action: Lessons from the Financial Crisis of 2008

21 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2016

See all articles by Julia D. Mahoney

Julia D. Mahoney

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: February 2016


Government actions taken during and in the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008 have generated lawsuits that, somewhat unexpectedly, have made takings law a key vehicle for assessing the government’s response to the crisis. This Essay examines these developments and offers three observations. First, these suits have already served an important public purpose by uncovering information that might not otherwise have come to light about how and why the government chose to do what it did. Second, the prospect of relief for takings claims can bolster the legitimacy of emergency action. This insight leads to this Essay’s final point, which concerns the political economy of public measures to contain financial and economic crises. Government choices regarding who gets help, how much, and with what strings attached inevitably yield winners and losers. Insulating these decisions from review can facilitate the use of crisis to subvert government for private ends. Particularly at a time when anxieties about “crony capitalism” and the outsize influence of elites are running high, these are the wrong incentives to create.

Suggested Citation

Mahoney, Julia D., Takings, Legitimacy, and Emergency Action: Lessons from the Financial Crisis of 2008 (February 2016). George Mason Law Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2016, Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 6, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 27, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2739811

Julia D. Mahoney (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-3942 (Phone)

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