Does Centralized Private Power Corrode the Rule of Law?

29 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2016 Last revised: 8 Jul 2016

See all articles by James G. Wilson

James G. Wilson

Cleveland State University College of Law

Date Written: June 24, 2016


It is difficult to define the appropriate domains of private and public power, much less to maintain a balance that preserves republican virtues and institutions. This essay revisits the problem of regulatory capture by asking if centralized private power corrodes the rule of law.

The first part of the essay attempts to crudely define "centralized private power" and explores several definitions of "rule of law" to find the definitions that are most relevant to answering the question. It also explains that "corrosion" is a useful concept, because that term avoids the Supreme Court's crabbed conception of "corruption." The second part of the essay provides several recent examples of a double standard in prosecutorial discretion -- severity for the poor, leniency for the rich -- to support its hypothesis that recent administrations have undermined the "rule of law." In other words, they have not faithfully executed the law.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Faithfully Execute the Law, Private Power, Public Power, Corruption, Citizens United, Concentrated Private Power, Centralized Private Power, Prosecutorial Discretion

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Wilson, James G., Does Centralized Private Power Corrode the Rule of Law? (June 24, 2016). Cleveland State Law Review, Vol. 64, No. 2, 2016, Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper 16-298, Available at SSRN:

James G. Wilson (Contact Author)

Cleveland State University College of Law ( email )

2121 Euclid Avenue, LB 138
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
United States
216-233-0305 (Phone)


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