Monday, June 01, 2015

Jotwell post on work by Knoll, Mason, and Viard on discrimination against interstate commerce

Jotwell, or "the journal of things we like lots," is a website that seeks to "fill[] a telling gap in legal scholarship by creating a space where legal academics can go to identify, celebrate, and discuss the best new scholarship relevant to the law."  The gap, of course, exists primarily because so many of us are mainly engaged in doing our own work, and secondarily because there often is stronger motivation to attack, than gratuitously praise, other work.  (Just as chimps shriek and wave branches around when they see rival troupes, rather than inviting them to come in.)

I've agreed to write a Jotwell "jot" annually.  Two years ago, I wrote something about Benn Steil's book about Bretton Woods. Last year, I addressed Piketty.

This time around I have written a piece, just posted here, lauding recent scholarship by Michael Knoll, Ruth Mason, and Alan Viard that addresses the legal definition of discrimination against interstate commerce, and that appears to have completely persuaded the Supreme Court majority in the recent state income tax law case, Comptroller v. Wynne.  I'm glad to give these individuals (all admittedly friends) some well-deserved praise, and I also briefly address the direction of legal scholarship and offer an overview of the underlying issue and their arguments.

The discerning and well-informed reader may note that I share these authors' lack of enthusiasm for "double taxation" as a useful analytic frame, as you can see, for example, here. My work to this effect addresses issues in international, rather than state and local, taxation, but there is something in common (pertaining to an instinct for substance over formalism) as between the two sets of issues.

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