Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Keywords

scholarship, reform, legal theory, positive political theory

Abstract

The "Rule of Law" is a venerable concept, but, on closer inspection, it is a complex admixture of positive assumptions, inchoate political and legal theory, and occasionally wishful thinking. Although enormous investments have been made in rule of law reformism throughout the world, advocates of transplanting American-style legal and political institutions to developed and developing countries are often unclear about what they are transplanting and why they are doing so. The concept of rule of law has become unplugged from theories of law. Scholars clearly have more work to do in understanding the rule of law and designing institutions to realize the objectives for which this grand project is intended.

In this Article, we revisit the concept of the rule of law in order to unpack the theoretical and operational assumptions underlying scholarship and reform efforts. We do so from the perspective of legal and positive political theory, and we interrogate various institutional devices (such as constitutionalism and the independent judiciary) in order to shed light on how the construct of the rule of law is being put into service on behalf of cross- national reform initiatives.