The Economics of The Bill of Rights

38 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2007

See all articles by Hugo M. Mialon

Hugo M. Mialon

Emory University - Department of Economics

Paul H. Rubin

Emory University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 22, 2007

Abstract

We elucidate, connect, and synthesize the literature that employs economics to study the individual rights and freedoms protected by the constitutional amendments comprising The Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech and of the press, the right to bear arms, the right against unreasonable searches, the right against self-incrimination, the right to trial by jury, and the right against excessive punishment. Economics is uniquely suited to studying decisions involving tradeoffs, and each of the amendments require tradeoffs; for example, between censuring productive speech and allowing harmful speech, between disarming crime victims and arming criminals, between reducing privacy and increasing crime, or between punishing the innocent and acquitting the guilty. Emphasizing these tradeoffs allows us to discuss the constitutional rights in terms of "more or less," as opposed to taking an absolutist approach. We find that the economic literature on the amendments of The Bill of Rights is vibrant and growing, and that viewing the amendments within the framework of economics is highly useful.

Keywords: Economics, law, government, crime, freedom, speech, press, guns, privacy, silence, jury, punishment

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K40, H00, H10, H11

Suggested Citation

Mialon, Hugo M. and Rubin, Paul H., The Economics of The Bill of Rights (July 22, 2007). Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 07-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=996478 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.996478

Hugo M. Mialon (Contact Author)

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Paul H. Rubin

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-931-0493 (Phone)
630-604-9609 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.emory.edu/Rubi.htm

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