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Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of…
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Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law

by Robert A. Kagan

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The author makes a compelling case on the negative impact of our hypertrophied legal system. Others had made the same observation, but Kagan offers a convincing explanation for how we got into this situation: "a political culture that expects and demands comprehensive governmental protections from serious harm, injustice, and environmental dangers -- and hence a powerful, activist government -- and, second, a set of governmental structures that reflect mistrust of concentrated power and hence that limit and fragment political and governmental authority." Sorry kids, we can't have it both ways. Our stop gap has been to devolve responsibility for social action onto private suits, but at great costs of efficiency and reasonableness. Outlook: bleak. ( )
  dono421846 | Apr 29, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674012410, Paperback)

American methods of policy implementation and dispute resolution are more adversarial and legalistic when compared with the systems of other economically advanced countries. Americans more often rely on legal threats and lawsuits. American laws are generally more complicated and prescriptive, adjudication more costly, and penalties more severe. In a thoughtful and cogently argued book, Robert Kagan examines the origins and consequences of this system of "adversarial legalism."

Kagan describes the roots of adversarial legalism and the deep connections it has with American political institutions and values. He investigates its social costs as well as the extent to which lawyers perpetuate it. Ranging widely across many legal fields, including criminal law, environmental regulations, tort law, and social insurance programs, he provides comparisons with the legal and regulatory systems of western Europe, Canada, and Japan that point to possible alternatives to the American methods.

Kagan notes that while adversarial legalism has many virtues, its costs and unpredictability often alienate citizens from the law and frustrate the quest for justice. This insightful study deepens our understanding of law and its relationship to politics in America and raises valuable questions about the future of the American legal system.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:53 -0400)

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