Law's strange allure: The power of legal lore beyond the law-politics divide

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American political culture is both seduced and repulsed by legal power, and this essay reviews Gordon Silverstein's contribution to understanding the causes and consequences of "law's allure." Using interbranch analysis, Silverstein argues that law is dangerously alluring as a political shortcut, but ultimately he concludes that law offers no exit from "normal politics" and the hard work of "changing minds." This essay suggests that Silverstein's framework-his dyadic focus on courts and Congress, constructive and deconstructive patterns, legal formality and normal politics-strips law from its animating context of interests, inequality, and ideology. Without consideration of these larger forces of power, Silverstein's framework misplaces law's ability to "change minds" in perverse and unexpected ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1076
Number of pages12
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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