Doing the Right Thing examines the use of extraordinary legislative procedures in four cases in the U.S. Congress to accomplish policy objectives that many political scientists would argue are impossible to achieve. It not only shows that Congress is capable of imposing parochial costs in favor of general benefits but it argues that Congress is able to do so in a variety of policy areas through the use of very different kinds of procedural mechanisms that are underappreciated.
The book opens by developing a theory of procedural choice to explain why Congress chooses to delegate in differing degrees in dealing with similar kinds of policy problems. The theory is then applied to four narrative case studies—military base closures, the Yucca Mountain Project, NAFTA, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986—that both show the variety of factors that impact procedural choice and highlight how our national legislature was able to “do the right thing.”
The book concludes by pointing to the variety of ways in which Congress will be confronted with similar policy problems in the coming years and offering some lessons from these cases about what kinds of procedures and policy outcomes we might expect. In short, Congress is remarkably adept at “doing the right thing,” even under difficult circumstances, but only when legislators are willing to manipulate procedures in all the necessary ways.
A far-reaching examination of how America came to treat street and corporate crime so differently.
While America incarcerates its most marginalized citizens at an unparalleled rate, the nation has never developed the capacity to consistently prosecute corporate wrongdoing. Dual Justice unearths the intertwined histories of these two phenomena and reveals that they constitute more than just modern hypocrisy.
By examining the carceral and regulatory states’ evolutions from 1870 through today, Anthony Grasso shows that America’s divergent approaches to street and corporate crime share common, self-reinforcing origins. During the Progressive Era, scholars and lawmakers championed naturalized theories of human difference to justify instituting punitive measures for poor offenders and regulatory controls for corporate lawbreakers. These ideas laid the foundation for dual justice systems: criminal justice institutions harshly governing street crime and regulatory institutions governing corporate misconduct.
Since then, criminal justice and regulatory institutions have developed in tandem to reinforce politically constructed understandings about who counts as a criminal. Grasso analyzes the intellectual history, policy debates, and state and federal institutional reforms that consolidated these ideas, along with their racial and class biases, into America’s legal system.
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