Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government
13 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2003
Date Written: February 13, 2003
Schools, welfare agencies, and a wide variety of other state and local institutions of vital importance to citizens are controlled by attorneys and judges rather than governors and mayors. In this book, Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod explain how this has come to pass, why it has resulted in service to the public that is worse, not better, and what can be done to restore control of these programs to democratically elected - and accountable - officials.
Sandler and Schoenbrod tell how the courts, with the best intentions and often with the approval of elected officials, came to control ordinary policy making through court decrees. These court regimes, they assert, impose rigid and often ancient detailed plans that can founder on reality. Newly elected officials, who may wish to alter the plans in response to the changing wishes of voters, cannot do so unless attorneys, court-appointed functionaries, and lower-echelon officials agree. The result is neither judicial government nor good government, say Sandler and Schoenbrod, and they offer practical reforms that would set governments free from this judicial stranglehold, allow courts to do their legitimate job of protecting rights, and strengthen democracy.
Keywords: institutional reform litigation, structural injunction, decree, injunction, federalism, federal mandate, unfunded mandate
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