Richard Epstein has written on a wide variety of legal topics, and is known for a generally libertarian approach to issues in legal theory.
Epstein is well-known for his arguments against anti-discrimination laws, among other positions. Perhaps his most well-known work is Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain, published by Harvard University Press in 1985. In that book, Epstein argues that government should be regarded with the same respect as any other private entity in a property dispute. Though Senator Joseph Biden denounced the book in Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, the book served as a focal point in the argument about the government’s ability to control private property.
What is the State Good for Anyway? Liberty, Property and Regulation is based on Epstein’s remarks to the 2008 Civitas National Conference om Winnipeg. In it he asks “what do we do as a minority in a very complex political environment in order to make the current system less intrusive, less regulatory and less government-dominated.”
Epstein has suggested that the functions of a sensible government should be sure to facilitate individual choice in personal and business decision. He says, “It should provide for a clear definition and rigorous enforcement of private property and voluntary contracts. It should make sure that there is sensible financing and management of key systems of social infrastructure. It should have a modest antitrust law that concentrates on the control of monopoly and cartels. It should think about a humane system of redistribution last, not first. By sticking to its mission it should create the conditions whereby individuals are able to generate their own prosperity, and thereby improve the prospects for happiness and wealth of everyone around them.”
To read the complete Commentary, What is the State Good for Anyway? Liberty, Property and Regulation, click here.