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Chris Kimball Reacts to ‘The Supreme Court Confronts the Principles of Multivariable Calculus in Extending Employment Protections to Gay and Transgender Employees’

Summary:
1. I think the meaning of "sex" in the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a relatively hard question. I'm not satisfied the Supreme Court got it right. Much as I think we should have protection for sex and gender minorities, there is a risk that the Supreme Court is legislating here. The fact that our Congress finds it so difficult to do perfectly reasonable things is not a good excuse for legislation by courts, in my opinion, for the long run.2. Complexities in but-for analyses are well understood. At least, they were well understood in my law school in the early 1980s. The University of Chicago Law School was at the forefront of law and economics,

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Chris Kimball Reacts to 'The Supreme Court Confronts the Principles of Multivariable Calculus in Extending Employment Protections to Gay and Transgender Employees'

1. I think the meaning of "sex" in the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a relatively hard question. I'm not satisfied the Supreme Court got it right. Much as I think we should have protection for sex and gender minorities, there is a risk that the Supreme Court is legislating here. The fact that our Congress finds it so difficult to do perfectly reasonable things is not a good excuse for legislation by courts, in my opinion, for the long run.

2. Complexities in but-for analyses are well understood. At least, they were well understood in my law school in the early 1980s. The University of Chicago Law School was at the forefront of law and economics, including applying mathematical concepts to judicial decision making, so I can't really say what the overall market is like. But I do know top litigators. My partners argue these cases before the Supreme Court. They are more than capable of making cogent arguments about coordinate systems, and I remember there is precedent for arguing and understanding the complexities of a but-for analysis.

3. Personally I would like to use the language of calculus and finite differences. However, I think the general state of mathematical literacy is too low for that proposal to get traction. My just barely informed judgment is that there is room for improvement in the way we make and interpret the arguments, including in the language used, but I would not go all the way to the language of calculus and finite differences.

4. I think/I guess/I believe there have been advances in my lifetime and there are more yet to be made, that have the nature of mathematics and probability and decision theory and economics rendered in precise but common English. That's not where I spend my time these days, but I have in the past (writing about the use of option pricing models, for one notable example).

Don’t miss these other guest posts by Chris:

In addition, Chris is my coauthor for

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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