Saturday, May 19, 2012

Charter School Lobby Group Quits ALEC Two Days After Being Identified By Republic Report

Now, my purpose in linking to this is not to attack ALEC.  I actually find ALEC interesting from the standpoint of legal theory - they are one of several entities, some political activists and some academics, that draft and publish model legislation that legislatures can adopt in whole or in part.  One of my current research/writing projects is about the proliferation of legislation in the twentieth century, and one contributing factor was the emergence of entities like the American Law Institute (which gave us the Model Penal Code, Restatements, and various Uniform Acts).  I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, even when conservative groups like ALEC do this; liberal activist groups can do the same thing.  I think that these model legislation documents over time will help legislation get vetted more rigorously by the public before legislatures adopt it.  It will be fascinating to see if public commentary about such model legislation - like newpaper editorials or law review articles scrutinizing ALEC proposals - will eventually make it into the canon of "legislative history" that courts consider in determining a statute's meaning.

Nor do I disagree with everything ALEC advocates - on some issues, I actually like their proposals. But not on privatization.  On this issue, I think they push government outsourcing as a panacea for cost-cutting, and I am skeptical about whether the savings actually occur after the states hire all the contractors to do governmental tasks. 

-Dru Stevenson

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