Books in Brief

America’s Political Inventors: The Lost Art of Legislation, by George W. Liebmann (New York: I.B. Tauris; 272 pp., £64.00).  George Liebmann, an attorney and historian, argues that Friedrich Hayek’s definition of the rule of law (“uniform rules laid down in advance”) has not been observed recently by federal and state governments.  Learned Hand said that the meaning of a law should be understood by the citizens, that it should reflect their values, and (in the case of the United States) the traditions of limited government.  Further, it should be written so as not to depend on the competence of administrators, given America’s historical absence of a professional civil service.  Lieb-mann offers, as one example of more recent lawmaking, George W. Bush’s education law, “which proceeded . . . by directing vague mandates to state and local governments that benefit from modest amounts of federal aid.” Citing historical and contemporary critics, including Tocqueville, Theodore Lowi, and Robert Wiebe, Liebmann condemns pluralistic government by interest groups in which (in Lowi’s words) “there is no formal specification of means and ends . . . and therefore, no substance . . . only process.”  In place of this, Liebmann urges “devolution, reciprocity of obligations, institution building, and predictability”...

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