The Legal Origins Theory purports to predict how countries respond to economic and social problems. Specifically, the legal origins of the United States should strongly influence the manner it approaches economic problems and its approach should be distinct from the response of civil law countries. If the theory is accurate, America's legal tradition should have a profound impact on its response to the crisis. This Article seeks to test the boundaries of the theory by assessing whether it could have predicted the manner the U.S. responded to the current economic crisis. After analyzing the U.S. response to the crisis, this article reveals that such response runs fundamentally counter to its legal origins. This inconsistency suggests that political, social, and economic forces do more to explain the U.S. response to significant turmoil than its legal origins. It also suggests that the current crisis may have been so severe that it overwhelmed any explanatory or predictive value potentially derived from the legal origins theory.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-94, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-94
Lisa M. Fairfax, The Legal Origins Theory in Crisis, 2009 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 1571 (2009).