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Subverting the Rule of Law: The Judiciary's Role in Fostering Unethical Behavior

87 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2005  

Richard Lavoie

University of Akron - School of Law


This article examines research in the field of social psychology indicating that individuals lack well-defined character traits. Unethical behavior therefore stems from situational factors, not individual personality. The judiciary's move toward strict statutory interpretation is unintentionally eliminating a key situational constraint on unethical behavior. Heightened levels of unethical activity, such as corporate tax avoidance, weaken the public's faith in the legal system and harm the Rule of Law. The increasing popularity of Justice Scalia's brand of strict statutory interpretation is undermining the Rule of Law, rather than promoting it as Justice Scalia claims. To effectively combat corporate tax shelters, judicial attitudes toward strict interpretation must change.

Keywords: Rule of Law, statutory interpretation, scalia, tax shelter, social psychology

JEL Classification: H26, H30, K34, K42

Suggested Citation

Lavoie, Richard, Subverting the Rule of Law: The Judiciary's Role in Fostering Unethical Behavior. University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 75, p. 115, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Richard Lavoie (Contact Author)

University of Akron - School of Law ( email )

150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States

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