Ilya Somin

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Ilya Somin is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a blogger for the Volokh Conspiracy, and a former co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review (2006 to 2013).[1][2][3] His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy.[4] He is the author of two books published in 2013: Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter,[5] and A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (co-authored with other Volokh Conspiracy bloggers).[6] A revised and expanded second edition of Democracy and Political Ignorance will be published in May 2016.[7] He is also the author of the 2015 book The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain, a scholarly book on the topic of eminent domain, property rights, and the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Kelo v. City of New London.[8]

Personal life

Somin was born in the USSR in 1973. At age five, he migrated along with his family to the United States. In a personal memoir, Somin recounted both the material poverty in the USSR (that he experienced firsthand) and the ideological indoctrination (that he learned about from family members, and saw glimpses of as a child).[9] Somin received his B.A. in political science and history from Amherst College, M.A. in political science from Harvard University and J.D. from Yale Law School.

Views

Political ignorance

Like other public choice theorists, Somin argues that rational ignorance is a major problem for the successful functioning of democracy. He has argued for this position in a number of published articles, and has in particular been critical of the ideal of deliberative democracy.[10][11][12]

Somin notes that rational irrationality, as described by Bryan Caplan in The Myth of the Rational Voter, is a problem. Somin departs from traditional public choice theorists by carving out an important place for rational irrationality, while at the same time disagreeing with Caplan's assertion that rational ignorance alone would not be a problem.[13][14]

Somin wrote a book titled Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter elaborating on this thesis. He also defended his thesis in the lead essay of Cato Unbound in October 2013.[15] Other participants in the exchange included Heather Gerken, Jeffrey Friedman, and Sean Trende.[16] Gerken's response essay used the fox versus hedgehog distinction, arguing that Somin's ideal voter was a fox, whereas David Schleicher's work stressed that voters tended to be hedgehogs and use their party affiliation as an informational shortcut.[17] Political commentator George Will reviewed the book favorably in a Washington Post op-ed.[18]

Somin's work on political ignorance stretches back to about a decade before the publication of Democracy and Political Ignorance. In 2004, he wrote a policy analysis for the Cato Institute titled "When Ignorance Isn't Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy" that laid out the case he would elaborate in his book.[19] In 2010, he wrote a critique of deliberative democracy based on his research on political ignorance.[20]

Somin's work on political ignorance has been covered by the Chicago Tribune.[21]

Originalism

Somin is a proponent of originalism: he argues that judges should make decisions, as far as possible, based on the original meaning of the relevant parts of the constitution. Somin has written a paper about the relationship and tension between constitutional originalism and political ignorance.[22][23][24] He has also blogged about the history of originalism,[25] the relation between originalism and discrimination,[26] the relation between originalism and affirmative action,[27] and other topics related to originalism.[28]

Property rights

Somin has been critical of eminent domain laws that permit governments to take over land by force.[29][30] He was critical of the court decision in Kelo v. City of New London and has defended eminent domain reforms undertaken by US states in the wake of the incident,[31] while arguing that such reforms may not go far enough in protecting private property rights.[32][33] Somin has argued that Detroit's abuse of eminent domain "deter[red] investment by undermining confidence in the security of property rights."[34] Somin's book on the topic of property rights and eminent domain, titled The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain was published by the University of Chicago Press and released on June 15, 2015.[8]

Author

Somin is the author of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter,[5] published byStanford University Press) in 2013, with a revised second edition to be released in 2016. In the book, Somin expands on his public choice-style case for limited government.[35]

Somin's book, The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain, expands on his work on eminent domain and property rights, and was published in June 2015 by the University of Chicago Press.[8]

Somin is also the co-author, along with other Volokh Conspiracy bloggers, of the book A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case.[6] Somin's co-authors include Randy Barnett, Jonathan Adler, David Bernstein, Orin Kerr, and David Kopel. Trevor Burrus is the editor.

Congressional testimony

Somin has testified to the United States Congress twice: once on the subject of drone warfare[36] and once on the subject of Sonia Sotomayor's record on property rights, in connection with her nomination as a justice for the Supreme Court.[37][38]

Media

Somin has participated many times in the New York Times Room for Debate Forum.[39][40][41]

Somin's articles have been published by a number of mainstream news and opinion outlets in the United States including National Review,[42] Forbes,[43] Los Angeles Times,[44] the Daily Caller,[45] and others.[46]

Somin's blog posts at Volokh Conspiracy have been cited in a number of mainstream news outlets. Somin's blog post[47][48] about the Supreme Court decision in Fisher v. University of Texas was cited by a number of news outlets.[49][50] Blog posts by Ilya Somin about the Supreme Court's decisions related to gay marriage (specifically, decisions about the Defense of Marriage Act and California Proposition 8 made in June 2013)[51][52][53] were also widely cited.[54]

In addition, Somin's work on political ignorance has been covered by the Chicago Tribune.[21]

References

  1. Somin, Ilya. "Personal webpage". Retrieved 2013-01-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Ilya Somin". Cato Institute.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Supreme Court Economic Review - Electronic Edition". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Ilya Somin".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Somin, Ilya. "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case". Retrieved 2013-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Political-Ignorance-Smaller-Government/dp/0804799318/
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Somin, Ilya. The Grasping Hand: "Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain. University of Chicago Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Somin, Ilya. "A Road to Freedom" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Somin, Ilya (2010-10-19). "Deliberative Democracy and Political Ignorance". Critical Review, Vol. 22, Nos. 2-3, pp. 253-279, 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Somin, Ilya (2004-09-22). "When Ignorance Isn't Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy". Cato Institute (Policy Analysis No. 525). Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Somin, Ilya (2010-02-12). "An Inconvenient Truth". Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Somin, Ilya (2007-05-17). "Bryan Caplan's Myth of the Rational Voter". Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Somin, Ilya (2013-02-03). "Transparency and Political Ignorance". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Somin, Ilya (2013-10-11). "Democracy and Political Ignorance". Cato Unbound. Retrieved 2013-10-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Is Smaller Government Smarter Government?". Cato Unbound (lead essay). October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Gerken, Heather (2013-10-14). "The Fox and the Hedgehog: How Do We Achieve Political Accountability Given What Voters (Don't) Know?". Cato Unbound (response essay). Retrieved 2013-10-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Will, George F. (January 1, 2014). "The price of political ignorance: More government". Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Somin, Ilya (2004-09-22). "When Ignorance Isn't Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy". Cato Institute (Policy Analysis No. 525). Retrieved 2013-10-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Somin, Ilya (2010-10-19). "Deliberative Democracy and Political Ignorance". Critical Review, Vol. 22, Nos. 2–3, pp. 253–79, 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Chapman, Steve (2012-04-19). "Mixing ignorance and democracy: Can our system work with uninformed voters?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Somin, Ilya (2012-03-02). "Originalism and Political Ignorance". Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 2, pp. 625-668, December 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Somin, Ilya (2012-03-06). "Originalism and Political Ignorance". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Solum, Larry (2012-03-06). "Somin on Originalism & Political Ignorance". Legal Theory Blog. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Somin, Ilya (2011-07-15). "For Intellectual-History-of-Originalism Buffs". Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Somin, Ilya (2013-04-12). "New Scholarship on Originalism and Discrimination". Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Somin, Ilya (2012-09-07). "Originalism and Affirmative Action". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Originalism category". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Somin, Ilya (2005-02-22). "Robin Hood in Reverse: The Case against Economic Development Takings" (PDF). Cato Institute Policy Analysis. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Somin, Ilya (2009-11-12). "A Turning Point for Eminent Domain?". New York Times Room for Debate Forum. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Somin, Ilya. "Is Post-Kelo Eminent Domain Reform Bad for the Poor?". Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, pp. 1931-1943, Fall 2007. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Somin, Ilya (2009-06-11). "The Limits of Backlash: Assessing the Political Response to Kelo". Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 6, pp. 2100-2178, June 2009. Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Somin, Ilya (2011-05-19). "The Judicial Reaction to Kelo". Albany Government Law Review, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2011 (Introduction to the Symposium on Eminent Domain in the United States). Retrieved 2013-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. de Rugy, Veronique (2013-07-23). "Did the Free Market Kill Detroit?". National Review.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Brennan, Jason (2013-09-30). "Democracy and Political Ignorance". Bleeding-Heart Libertarians. Retrieved 2013-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Jiang, Jenny (May 6, 2013). "Transcript: Professor Ilya Somin's Testimony on Drone: Targeted Killing - Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on April 23, 2013". What The Folly?. Retrieved October 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Phillips, Kate (July 9, 2009). "Judiciary Panel Releases Witness List for Sotomayor Hearing". New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Record on Constitutional Property Rights: Testimony Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary" (PDF). July 16, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Somin, Ilya (2011-09-25). "A Right to Economic Liberty". Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Somin, Ilya (2012-03-25). "Rein in Federal Power". Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. Somin, Ilya (2011-09-23). "The Problem with Broad Definitions". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. "Remembering Judge Bork". National Review. 2012-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Somin, Ilya (2010-05-11). "Don't Dismiss Elena Kagan". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Somin, Ilya (2009-05-29). "Obama, Sotomayor, and Empathy". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Somin, Ilya (2011-11-09). "Referendum initiatives prevent eminent domain abuse". Daily Caller. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Somin, Ilya. "Publications". Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Somin, Ilya (2013-06-24). "Preliminary Thoughts on Fisher v. University of Texas". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. Somin, Ilya (2013-06-24). "Competing Interpretations of Fisher". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. Rayfield, Jillian (2013-06-24). "Could SCOTUS ruling actually endanger affirmative action policies?". Salon. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  50. Whelan, Ed (2013-06-24). "Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin". National Review. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. Somin, Ilya (2013-06-26). "The Impact of Today's Gay Marriage Decisions". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. Somin, Ilya (2013-06-26). "Right, Left, and the Standing Issues in the Gay Marriage Cases". Volokh Conspiracy. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. Somin, Ilya (2013-06-26). "The DOMA Decision and Federalism". Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. Rayfield, Jillian (2013-06-26). "DOMA and Prop 8: Here's what it all means". Salon. Retrieved 2013-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links