The Rule of Law, Freedom, and Prosperity
Todd J. Zywicki*
George Mason University School of Law and ICER
After decades of neglect, the rule of law is much on the minds of legal scholars
today. In the United States, the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Bush v. Gore
has triggered renewed interest in understanding the concept of the rule of law and its
value to society. Transition and developing economies have increasingly come to
recognize the importance of the rule of law in establishing a framework for economic
growth and individual liberty.
This essay provides an overview of these debates over
the concept and consequences of the rule of law. Although American scholars have
criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore as violative of the rule of law,
this criticism rests on an erroneous understanding of the rule of law. The tradition of the
rule of law, as expressed by Dicey, Oakeshott, Hayek, and others, is consistent with the
Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore. Moreover, this tradition of the rule of law is
a cornerstone of a free and prosperous society, in America and abroad.