Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom

With Ilya Somin

Tuesday, February 23rd, 3:00 – 4:30 pm ET, via Zoom

NYU Law Professors Richard Epstein and Roderick Hills join Ilya Somin to discuss his book Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom.

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Ballot box voting is often considered the essence of political freedom. But it has two major shortcomings: individual voters have little chance of making a difference, and they also face strong incentives to remain ignorant about the issues at stake. “Voting with your feet,” however, avoids both of these pitfalls and offers a wider range of choices. In Free to Move, Ilya Somin explains how broadening opportunities for foot voting can greatly enhance political liberty for millions of people around the world.

People can vote with their feet through international migration, by choosing where to live within a federal system, and by making decisions in the private sector. These three types of foot voting are rarely considered together, but Somin explains how they have important common virtues and can be mutually reinforcing.  He also addresses a variety of common objections to expanded migration rights, including claims that the “self-determination” of natives requires giving them the power to exclude migrants, and arguments that migration is likely to have harmful side effects, such as undermining political institutions, overburdening the welfare state, increasing crime and terrorism, and spreading undesirable cultural values.

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, democratic theory, federalism, and migration rights. He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain.

Somin’s work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review,  and Georgetown Law Journal. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and USA Today. He writes regularly for the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, affiliated with Reason magazine.