The rule of law has long been one of the mainstays of liberal thought. John Locke cited its absence--not the absence of rights, which Locke thought existed in the state of nature--as the first reason for forming a government. Essentially, the rule of law says that the requirements of justice must take a form such that persons can know what justice requires of them before they act and can detect abuses by those charged with law enforcement. If the formal and procedural requirements of the rule of law are adhered to, those "good" persons who seek to act properly can know what proper actions are. With this knowledge they can order their actions with those of others, thereby achieving a peaceful society with a minimum of conflict. The order of actions provided by adherence to the rule of law not only avoids conflict, it permits individuals and associations to plan for the future and to take action in reliance on a predictable legal regime.
14 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 615-643 (1991)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Barnett, Randy E., "Unenumerated Constitutional Rights and the Rule of Law" (1991). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1263.