The Greening of the Weekly Standard

I just had a chance to read David Tell’s generally fair article on the 35th anniversary of Charles Reich’s The Greening of America. My only gripe is that, were one to depend only on Tell’s evidence in the story, one would imagine that this was a guy who was a basically obscure law professor who suddenly leaped to prominence by writing a silly book. In fact, this was an extraordinarily important law professor who leaped to public prominence by writing a silly book. Reich is the author of the #4 most cited law review article of all time, his Yale Law Journal piece, “The New Property.” In addition to being widely cited, “The New Property” was also an inspiration for the Supreme Court’s decision in Goldberg v. Kelly, one of its seminal welfare rights decisions (along with Shapiro v. Thompson and King v. Smith). In fact, it is impossible to tell the story of the welfare rights movement without giving Reich’s work pride of place–as I did in my book Whose Welfare: AFDC and Elite Politics. Whatever one’s normative evaluation of Reich’s work, or its impact on American law (and I was pretty negative in Whose Welfare?), one has to give him his props–this was a man who, for a time, was among the most important figures in American law.

Author: Steven M. Teles

Steven Teles is a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of American Politics. He is the author of Whose Welfare? AFDC and Elite Politics (University Press of Kansas), and co-editor of Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy (Cambridge). He is currently completing a book on the evolution of the conservative legal movement, co-editing a book on conservatism and American Political Development, and beginning a project on integrating political analysis into policy analysis. He has also written journal articles and book chapters on international free market think tanks, normative issues in policy analysis, pensions and affirmative action policy in Britain, US-China policy and federalism. He has taught at Brandeis, Boston University, Holy Cross, and Hamilton colleges, and been a research fellow at Harvard, Princeton and the University of London.