The rule of law is the most important political ideal today, yet there is much confusion about what it means and how it works. This book explores the history, politics, and theory surrounding the rule of law ideal, beginning with classical Greek and Roman ideas, elaborating on medieval contributions to the rule of law, and articulating the role played by the rule of law in liberal theory and liberal political systems. The author outlines the concerns of Western conservatives about the decline of the rule of law and suggests reasons why the radical Left have promoted this decline. Two basic theoretical streams of the rule of law are then presented, with an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of each. The book examines the rule of law on a global level, and concludes by answering the question of whether the rule of law is a universal human good.
'Terrific. Brian Tamanaha has written a book that should educate not only every student and layperson who reads it, but also scholars who wrongly think there is nothing new to say about 'the rule of law' ... I hope it gets the wide readership it deserves.' Sanford Levinson, Professor of Law, University of Texas Law school, author of Wresting with Diversity 'The rule of law seems increasingly important and desirable. But the question remains: what is it? In his short book On The Rule Of Law, Brain Tamanaha seeks to answer this basic question, and he succeeds. This is a valuable work that fills the need for a clearly articulated introduction to this now widely praised, but often poorly understood, political ideal. ... For anyone seeking to evaluate the multitude of public statements or academic works that promote, critique, or disparage the rule of law, this book is an excellent point of departure for that evaluation.' Law and Politics Review