Minnesota Law Review

Rights for Sale

Individuals enjoy a host of rights in relation to the government, including voting rights, the right against self-incrimination, the right to public education, pollution quotas, as well as various subsidies and tax attributes. Should individuals be able to sell these public entitlements to others? Markets for voting rights or tax attributes may seem inconceivable. Yet for pollution quotas, trade between polluters who do not fully utilize their quotas and those who wish to utilize the surplus seems natural and is actually encouraged. Can the differences in treatment be normatively justified?

To answer this question we move the spotlight away from the traditional vertical (individual-government) perspective, through which public entitlements are usually viewed, to the neglected horizontal (individual-individual) perspective. Exploring the normative foundations of alienability, we develop a conceptual framework for constructing alienable public entitlements. This framework challenges existing conventions and offers new insights with regard to both alienability and public entitlements. Expanding the horizons of the alienability discourse beyond the traditional contexts of taboo markets (such as organs, babies, and sexuality) to the unexplored terrain of public entitlements dismantles the simplistic binary treatment of alienability, opening up nuanced variations. Viewing public entitlements through the prism of alienability reveals an over-looked potential for their use as public policy instruments. The Article thus offers an exercise in expanding our legal imagination by portraying a world where alienability of public entitlements is a viable option, rather than a rare exception.

:: View PDF

News & Events

  • Fall Submissions Open – Headnotes

    The Minnesota Law Review: Headnotes fall submissions period is open. For more information, please visit our submissions page. Share this: on Twitter on Facebook on Google+

  • Vol. 97 Piece Quoted in Mother Jones Article

    A recent Mother Jones article predicting how the Roberts Court would resolve King v. Burwell draws on How Business Fares in the Supreme Court from Volume 97. You can read the article here. Share this: on Twitter on Facebook on Google+

  • Welcome to De Novo

    For nearly one hundred years, the Minnesota Law Review has been a leader amongst academic legal publications. When Professor Henry J. Fletcher launched the journal in 1917, his goal was simple. It was to “contribute a little something to the systematic growth of the whole law.” Since then, the Law [...]

  • Minnesota Law Review Alum Remembered 45 Years After Death

    Minnesota Law Review alumnus Tom Cranna was honored at the Annual Banquet this Spring, 45 years after his death. Mr. Cranna was remembered for his contributions to the journal, the school, and the positive impact he had on his family and friends. The Devil’s Lake Journal published a memorial which [...]

  • Follow MLR on Twitter!

    The Minnesota Law Review is proud to announce that we are now on Twitter. Follow us @MinnesotaLawRev for information and updates concerning the petition period and deadlines, the opening and closing of article submissions, our 2014 Symposium: Offenders in the Community, and all other news concerning our authors and publications. [...]


cforms contact form by delicious:days