Political Science | Intro to Law
Y211 | 28532 | Scheuerman

The Rule of Law is widely considered an indispensable component of
any decent political and social order. Yet the Rule of Law remains a
controversial notion about which citizens, politicians, and
academics heatedly disagree. Not surprisingly, it has been the
centerpiece of many recent political battles. What exactly is the
Rule of Law? Why is it so essential to a proper understanding of
contemporary political life?
The course begins with a discussion of the historical and conceptual
foundations of the Rule of Law. Considering the possibility that the
Rule of Law is undergoing serious decline in even relatively robust
liberal democracies, we then examine different ways in which recent
political and social events pose challenges to the Rule of Law.
Finally, we consider the charge that the value of the Rule of Law
has been badly overrated by most political and legal thinkers. Might
its present-day fragility offer opportunities for political and
social reform rather than reason for anxiety?

Please note that this is not a course on the details of the U.S.
legal system, though many examples in the course will inevitably
come from real-life legal practice (U.S. or otherwise). Instead,
this class focuses on the concept of the Rule of Law, one of the key
intellectual and institutional achievements of the western political
and legal tradition, and then attempts to determine the contemporary
political relevance of the Rule of Law.