Today, I'm wrapping up my legal theory class, and with it, my college career. In the class we've covered a lot of ground: natural law, positivism, realism, and all of the critical and postmodern appendages of today's legal thought. One voice that caught my attention, maybe surprisingly, given my libertarian tendencies, was Ronald Dworkin. Something about his elegant portrayal of law's integrity, its ability to transform, to change, to better.

    But Dworkin has his critics, to be sure. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article on Dworkin, his recent book, and the perennial rose-colored glasses through which he sees the law. Carlin Romano writes:

"The pathos of Dworkin's jurisprudence is that, after several decades, its two parts don't add up. In his philosophical work, the judge not only can grasp our entire constitutional scheme, like some hotshot assistant professor who understands every nuance of Kant's system, but he must to be an adequate judge. In his New York Review pieces, no living judge — make that no conservative judge — understands what he or she is doing."

    I'd like to think of law as robust, as having inner morality, but something always leads me to stop short. I think it's the messiness of law– the political exigencies that lead Dworkin and others to lambaste their political foes– that does this for me. Law is a powerful tool, but as is the case with most powerful tools, we cannot leave it uncriticized and unchecked.

Daniel Corbett

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