Here’s an interesting timeline:

I think all three events are connected.

There is a one year statute of limitations on libel, so April 11 was the last day he could sue Levitt. There are many reasons why AEI might want to let Lott go, but none of them are new. So it may well be that Lott’s determination to sue Levitt was the last straw and caused his dismissal.

The AEI’s refusal to investigate Lott’s misconduct has been a disgrace, but this lawsuit seems to me to be much better than an AEI investigation. Levitt’s defence gets to investigate Lott’s conduct and question people under oath.


  1. #1 Paul Crowley
    April 15, 2006

    It might be that if the lawsuit goes wrong it could do harm to AEI as well as to Lott, and they made it clear to him that he’d have to step down if he wanted to pursue it.

  2. #2 huxley
    April 15, 2006

    I wonder if Lott might have resigned because AEI was lukewarm or hesitant about the lawsuit. He’s always struck me as someone who genuinely believes that he’s not at fault for his actions or misdeeds, he even seems to have rationalized the Mary Rosh stuff. People who behave that way don’t often like people challenging their fabrications (even slightly).

  3. #3 Mark Shapiro
    April 16, 2006

    For those of us aching to see our friend Mr. Lott eat some serious humble pie, a lawyer friend of mine offers a cautionary note: most of these lawsuits are settled and then sealed. Maybe we should pass the hat for a Steven Levitt defense fund – but only on the condition that he not settle. I’d kick in a few bucks for the discovery phase alone.

  4. #4 TallDave
    April 20, 2006

    The Freakonomics authors also have a very interesting blog. Great post recently put up about the link between nutrition and violence.

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