The Legal and Ethical Implications of Public Pension Reform: Analyzing the New Constitutional Cases

65 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by T. Leigh Anenson

T. Leigh Anenson

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business

Jennifer Gershberg

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business

Date Written: April 13, 2021

Abstract

In this thought-provoking and well-researched article, the authors take up the public pension crisis as a case study in the legal and ethical responsibilities of government. Examining six years of litigation, they initially demonstrate—contrary to conventional wisdom—why the Contract Clause fails to provide a meaningful barrier to pension reform. The appraisal then offers a path forward: an ethical framework to be used by policymakers so that decisions are both morally right and politically defensible. The study's contribution to the literature lies in its interwoven discussion of landmark constitutional litigation and contemporary ethical theories applied in the government pension reform context. This interdisciplinary analysis is a first step toward re-thinking how state and local governments can (and should) be legally and morally accountable in this era of austerity.

Keywords: pensions, public pensions, public sector pensions, Contract Clause, constititutional litigation, ethics, Kant, Bentham, pension reform

JEL Classification: K10, K12, J18, J26, J45, J58

Suggested Citation

Anenson, T. Leigh and Gershberg, Jennifer, The Legal and Ethical Implications of Public Pension Reform: Analyzing the New Constitutional Cases (April 13, 2021). Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3825969

T. Leigh Anenson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
440-336-4468 (Phone)

Jennifer Gershberg

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States

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