Unjust Laws and Illegal Norms
University of Bologna - Department of Economics
University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna
Georg Von Wangenheim
University of Kassel
June 1, 2009
International Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-03
Due to a variety of circumstances, lawmakers occasionally create laws whose aims are perceived as outright unjust by the majority of the people. In other situations, the law may utilize improper means for the pursuit of a just goal. In all such cases, lawmaking processes generate rules that do not reflect the values of the underlying population. In these cases individuals may face legal commands or prohibitions that conflict with their sense of justice or fairness. Individuals can oppose unjust laws through protest. Social opposition to unjust laws may trigger social norms that can have countervailing effects on legal intervention. The dynamic effects of these phenomena are the object of this paper.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Social Norms, Countervailing Effect, Expressive Function, Law Enforcement, Civil Disobedience
JEL Classification: K10, K42, D70, B52, Z13
Date posted: January 30, 2008 ; Last revised: March 9, 2012
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