Benjamin M. Chen (co-authored with Zhiyu Li)

Benjamin Chen is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. He received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the same institution in 2017. He served as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after graduating from law school. His research on comparative law and legal institutions is informed by perspectives drawn from economics, philosophy, and political science. Current projects examine the role of cost-benefit analysis in regulation, the theory and doctrine of judicial deference, and the influence of courts on public opinion.

Designation: Columbia Law School
Institution: Columbia Law School
Paper: The Influence of Courts on Public Opinion in China: Evidence from A Survey Experiment
Abstract: "Can the Chinese Supreme People’s Court persuade the masses? This empirical question has received little attention from scholars studying the Chinese judiciary but is important for our understanding of the Court’s role in governing and administering modern China. To answer this question, we field a survey experiment that seeks to measure the persuasiveness of judicial vis-à-vis administrative and non-regulatory actors in the Chinese party-state. We find that while Chinese courts can sometimes induce support for the policies they endorse, this capacity is not unique to them and is at least equaled by other governmental entities. These results suggest that the Chinese judiciary does not have the political leverage to challenge powerful state organs. While the Chinese Supreme People’s Court may have developed its own institutional priorities and agenda, we should expect it to behave as it has always done before: cautiously, clandestinely, and incrementally."