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Hale, Robert Lee (1884–1969)

Robert Lee Hale was arguably the twentieth century's most radical legal-economic theorist. With a law degree from Harvard and a doctorate in economics from Columbia, Hale taught at the Columbia Law School for over thirty years. A legal realist, he went beyond analytical jurisprudence to the nature of judicial decision making, the economy as a system of power and mutual coercion, and the social creation of both economy and polity in the legal-economic nexus. Courts adopted his views on public utility regulation, especially his prudent investment approach to utility valuation and his conclusive demonstration of the circularity of the United States Supreme Court's early doctrine of a fair return on the value of property.

Hale's legal-economic theory emphasized several important ideas. First, systems of freedom ...

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