December, 2013

Constitutional Craftsmanship and the Rule of Law

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Shruti Rajagopalan

    Senior Research Fellow
Read more

Purchase the article on SpringerLink

Is “rule of law” anything more than a fictional allusion? After all, “law” is an abstract noun, and abstract nouns can’t rule. Only people can rule. The conceptual framework of constitutional political economy invokes a central distinction between choosing rules and playing within those rules. Claims on behalf of a rule of law require a sharp distinction between the enforcement of agreed-upon rules and arbitrary changes in those rules. This paper explores whether there are constitutional arrangements under which it could reasonably be claimed that governance reflects a deep level operation of a rule of law despite the surface level recognition that it is men who rule. With the exercise of rulership being a social process and not a matter of individual action, the network pattern through which rules are enforced takes on particular significance. In particular, polycentric architectures are generally more consistent with rule of law than monocentric architectures.