Studies in Political Science: Law as a Political Instrument

Studies in Political Science: Law as a Political Instrument

Studies in Political Science: Law as a Political Instrument

Studies in Political Science: Law as a Political Instrument

Excerpt

Everyone is familiar with the necessity and advantages of specialization and division of labor in nearly all organized social activity. Higher education is no exception. The academic profession is naturally subject to extensive compartmentalization. Despite its real benefits, academic specialization has some unfortunate consequences. One is the obvious and costly gaps in scholarly literature. For example, political science and law have significant areas of subject matter in common. Yet law school and political science courses, legal periodicals and political science journals, do not adequately cover the common ground. Many of the important topics suggested by the twin formulations "legal aspects of politics" and "political aspects of law" are neglected in textbooks, monographs, and articles. This problem is more than a by-product of specialization, but inadvertent omission of certain subjects which lie between clearly marked branches of learning would seem to be a major factor.

Perhaps one reason is the dearth of versatile and appropriately trained scholars who are competent to work successfully in two fields. The Random House Short Studies series is indeed fortunate that the young author of the present essay was both interested in preparing, and qualified to execute, a politico-legal analysis of a crucial segment of the American political process. The value and reliability of his study are enhanced by the fact that Professor Rosenblum is a lawyer and a political scientist. His dual professional training is altogether too rare among teachers and researchers concerned with political phenomena.

Faulty and narrow concepts and inadequate definitions have also contributed to the artificial barriers between law and politics as empirical phenomena and modes of study. Much of the confusion over the interrelations of law and politics is reminiscent of the politics-administration dichotomy which plagued political science for so long. There are, however, deeper reasons why sufficient attention has not been paid to the points raised by Professor Rosenblum's revealing study. Socially accepted and influential myths and misconceptions are hard to expose, and, when exposed, they die hard. The Law -- whatever else it has been in a sociological sense -- has become a potent if often ambiguous symbol, withdrawn from everyday life except as concretized on occasion in the form of courts, police, prisons, and so on. Furthermore, it is widely understood that judges and the court system as a whole should or actually do stand aloof from "politics" -- partly to remain incorruptible and partly to avoid "political questions" which are the proper sphere of other agencies of government. Beyond a few typical courses in constitutional law (or interpretation) and . . .

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