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What is the rule of law? Why does it matter? How well does America conform to the rule of law? And why do Americans, who profess such respect for the law, complain so often about our legal system? Drawing upon extensive experience in law, government service, teaching, and research, Boston University law school dean Ronald Cass offers a welcome contribution to the ongoing public discussion on law and society.
After opening his discussion with chapters on the rule of law in American society, Cass turns to the hard case of its application to the president of the United States. Through this prism Cass examines the behavior of judges who may not always act according to a "perfect model." They may not always be perfectly constrained by law or achieve perfect justice through law. That, however, is the wrong thing to ask. Instead, says Cass, "looking at the ordinary case--and asking not whether the decision advances particular aspirations for society, but whether it conforms to basic aspects of legal authority--produces a more law-governed view of America judging." In fact, this book provides a much-needed corrective to criticism of the American legal system raised all too frequently by members of the academy and by politicians. Rather than concentrating on relatively minor inconsistencies in the law and slight departures from the ideal of perfectly constrained decision making, Cass argues that the energies of his fellow scholars could be better spent on more serious defects in the legal system. With a special section on the 2000 presidential election, including the Florida recount and Supreme Court decision, The Rule of Law in America offers a timely look at a subject of interest to legal scholars and general readers alike..