//  9/6/17  //  Latest Developments

Cross-posted from the Global Anti-Corruption Blog

By Matthew Stephenson (Harvard Law School)

Editor's note: We don't usually post announcements, but believe that this conference may be of interest to readers interested in the Emoluments Clauses litigation and issues of kleptoracy under President Trump.

On Saturday, September 23rd, Harvard Law School, in collaboration with the University of Chicago’s Stigler Center, will host a one-day conference entitled “Populist Plutocrats: Lessons from Around the World.” The conference will focus on an important and dangerous phenomenon: political leaders who successfully exploit anti-elite sentiment in order to achieve power, but who, once in office, seem primarily interested in enriching themselves, along with a relatively small circle of family members and cronies. Many Americans might find that this description accurately captures President Trump, who campaigned as a populist, but who is governing as more as a “crony capitalist” plutocrat—or, some would allege, as a quasi-kleptocrat.

Americans seeking to understand the challenges our country is now facing might do well to look abroad. After all, while Trump’s leveraging of the power of the presidency for personal enrichment—enabled by anti-elite sentiment among his supporters—may well be unprecedented in modern U.S. history, it is not, alas, unprecedented in the modern world. Indeed, while every country’s experience is different, and we must always be careful not to overstate the parallels, many other democracies have had leaders who could be described as populist plutocrats, or even populist kleptocrats, in something like the Trump mold. While such resemblances have occasionally been noted (see, for example, hereherehere, and here), but there has not yet been much of a sustained attempt to understand populist plutocracy/kleptocracy and closely related phenomena in comparative perspective. The September 23 conference will seek to initiate more sustained exploration of these issues, and will also provide an opportunity for experts from other parts of the world–who have more experience with political leaders who combine populist rhetoric with self-interested profiteering and cronyism–to offer a distinct perspective on the challenges the United States is currently facing.

The conference will feature the following panels:

The conference is free and open to the public. More information, as well as a registration page, is available here. For more background on the motivation of the conference, Professor Zingales and I also have a short piece on the Stigler Center blog.)

For those who are interested but cannot make it, the conference will be live-streamed and video-recorded; more information on the live-stream will be available soon.


Versus Trump: 2017 Scorecard

1/4/18  //  Uncategorized

On the first episode of Versus Trump of 2018, Jason and Charlie look back at Versus Trump cases in 2017 and score them as Administration wins, losses, or not-yet-decided. They also look ahead at big issues to come in 2018. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

District Court Tries Too Hard To Duck Emoluments Clause Case

12/27/17  //  Commentary

I did not expect that a federal district judge would simply fail to apply the law that currently binds him. Yet that's more or less what Judge Daniels did in dismissing the CREW emoluments case.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Emoluments, Zone of Interests, and Political Questions: The 13th and 14th Strokes of the Clock

12/26/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Judge Daniels's opinion dismissing CREW's emoluments case makes profound errors in assessing 'zone of interests' and the political question doctrine. These errors are so grave that they cast doubt on the whole opinion.

Jed Shugerman

Fordham Law School