Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government

13 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2003  

Ross Sandler

New York Law School

David Schoenbrod

New York Law School

Date Written: February 13, 2003

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Sandler, Ross and Schoenbrod, David, Democracy by Decree: What Happens When Courts Run Government (February 13, 2003). Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod, DEMOCRACY BY DECREE: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN COURTS RUN GOVERNMENT, Yale University Press. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=379980 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.379980

Ross Sandler

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

David Schoenbrod (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212-431-2339 (Phone)
212-431-9205 (Fax)

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