Event Summaries

September 6 Public Policy Event 


The Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy hosted a public policy luncheon with three Washington University professors on Wednesday, September 6.


Gregory Magarian, Professor of Law, and Andrea Katz, Associate Professor of Law, discussed the legal and social implications of recent Supreme Court decisions. Steven Fazzari, Professor of Economics and Sociology, discussed economic disruption, inflation, and monetary policy in the past two decades.


Gregory Magarian spoke first and focused his talk on racial discrimination and racial policies in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to ban affirmative action in higher education. He noted that after affirmative action was banned in California state universities in 2018, admission and matriculation of African American and Latino students to the most competitive state universities fell by 40%.


He also discussed the 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis case. Magarian highlighted that SCOTUS’s majority argued the plaintiff, Lorie Smith, was constitutionally protected against making websites for same sex couples on free speech grounds, not freedom of religion.


“The Supreme Court, forget left or right, has a stronger ideologically cohesive majority and a more extreme ideological cohesive majority than it has had in living memory,” Magarian said. “And for that reason it kind of makes sense that the majority is ambitious, is frisky, and is eager to work its will on the law. And when you have a majority with that mindset, it makes sense that they would cut corners on standing, not least because they can, because there’s six of them.”


After Magarian, Andrew Katz spoke about the power and limitations of the executive branch in relation to Biden vs. Nebraska, in which SCOTUS ruled against the Biden’s administration plan to forgive around $430 million of student debt by relying on the legal precedent of the HEROES Act.


“Where an administrative agency takes a regulatory action that is significant in scope and departs from prior administrative policy, the court is going to cast a suspicious eye toward it and really inquire as to whether this program can be said to be a faithful interpretation of a statute delegating authority,” Katz said.


“This is a court that’s anxious about its own reputation, very much, and I think Biden vs. Nebraska shows that quite transparently,” she said.


Steven Fazzari, the former Director of the Weidenbaum Center, spoke last with a talk titled “Economic Update: Inflation, Monetary Policy, and Jobs: A ‘Soft Landing?’”

Fazzari outlined that the US recovered surprisingly fast from the pandemic, which provides a strong case that the government’s pandemic relief helped the economy bounce back.


He also explained how inflation has been fluctuating recently and how the pandemic and the Great Recession impacted interest rates and inflation.


“If you read the tea leaves right now, I would say it’s not really clear where the Federal policy is headed, but other things being equal, they’re not likely to raise a whole lot more,” Fazzari said.


More work from the three speakers can be found below:


Magarian: The New Religious Institutionalism Meets the Old Establishment Clause


Katz: The President in His Labyrinth: Checks and Balances in the New Pan-American Presidentialism


Fazzari: After the Great Recession: The Struggle for Economic Recovery and Growth