I thank Ira Katznelson, Charles Cameron, Greg Wawro, Robert Lieberman, Robert Kagan, Bert Kritzer, Tom Burke, Jeb Barnes, Mark Miller, the workshop at U.C. Berkeley's Center for the Study of Law and Society, and a JELS anonymous reviewer for valuable feedback. I thank Avi Springer for superb research assistance.
Congressional Mobilization of Private Litigants: Evidence from the Civil Rights Act of 1991
Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2009
© 2009, Copyright the Author. Journal compilation © 2009, Cornell Law School and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies
Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 1–34, March 2009
How to Cite
Farhang, S. (2009), Congressional Mobilization of Private Litigants: Evidence from the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 6: 1–34. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-1461.2009.01136.x
- Issue online: 5 MAR 2009
- Version of Record online: 5 MAR 2009
Levels of private litigation enforcing statutes are critically determined by legislative choice. I set out a theoretical framework for understanding how legislators purposefully influence the potential economic value of statutory claims, thereby establishing a market for enforcement consistent with legislative preferences. To test the theory, I examine the effects of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1991, which increased the value of employment discrimination claims under the CRA of 1964, and find that the law increased the number of claims filed. The origins and legislative history of the law also reveal that Congress utilized economic incentives as a policy instrument to purposefully increase private litigation, with a high degree of self-consciousness, in the course of conflict with other political actors over control of civil rights policy.