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The Rule of Law Unplugged

88 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2009 Last revised: 7 Apr 2010

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Barry R. Weingast

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 3, 2009

Abstract

The 'Rule of Law' is a venerable concept, but, on closer inspection, is a complex admixture of positive assumptions, occasionally wishful thinking, and inchoate political and legal theory. While enormous investment has been made in rule of law reformism throughout the world, advocates of transplanting American-style legal and political institutions to developed and developing countries in the world are often unclear about what they are transplanting and why they are ambitiously doing so. Scholars clearly have more work to do in understanding the rule of law and designing institutions to realize the objectives for which this grand project is intended.

In this paper, we revisit the concept of the rule of law in order to help unpack the theoretical and operational assumptions underlying scholarship and reform efforts. We do so from the perspective of legal and positive political theory; and we interrogate various institutional devices (such as constitutionalism and the independent judiciary) in order to shed light on how the construct of the rule of law is being put into service on behalf of cross-national reform initiatives.

Keywords: rule of law

Suggested Citation

McCubbins, Mathew D. and Rodriguez, Daniel B. and Weingast, Barry R., The Rule of Law Unplugged (September 3, 2009). U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 158. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1467797 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1467797

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Daniel B. Rodriguez (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Barry R. Weingast

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-723-0497 (Phone)
650-723-1808 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stanford.edu/group/mcnollgast/cgi-bin/wordpress/

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