Robert A. Kagan, University of California at Berkeley

American Adversarial Legalism in the 21st Century: Spreading, Fading, or Still Entrenched?

Tue, 12/11/2012
4:30 - 6:00 PM, 300 Wallace Hall
Event Category: 

Chapters from Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law
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Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Robert Kagan, Professor of Political Science and Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, who will present "American Adversarial Legalism in the 21st Century: Spreading, Fading, or Still Entrenched?"  His commentator is R. Daniel Kelemen, Associate Professor of Political Science, Jean Monnet Chair and Director of the Center for European Studies at Rutgers University.

Abstract:  "In Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law (2001),  Professor Kagan offered evidence indicating that compared to other economically advanced democracies, the legal system of the United States is distinctive. It plays a larger role in public and private governance. It is more legalistic and adversarial, and complex. It is more complex, punitive and costly. And it is politically more contentious and malleable. To what extent has American legal distinctiveness faded or changed in the last decade or so? In this talk – a first step toward an introduction to a second edition of his book -- Kagan will argue that in the last decade and a half, as a result of concerted effort by conservative  business interests, politicians, lawyers and judges, American adversarial legalism and the values that underlie it have become much more politically contested.  Yet adversarial legalism has not faded away and is not likely to. Instead, the political valence of adversarial legalism has become more variable; it is now more often used to promote conservative values  as well as the egalitarian values it reflected in past decades. Finally, despite increases in the role of courts and litigation in Western Europe and elsewhere, nowhere have national legal systems adopted the most salient and distinctive features of American adversarial legalism."

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Robert A. Kagan is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a JD from Columbia Law School (1962) and Ph.D. from Yale University (1974).  From 1993 to 2003, he was Director of Berkeley's Center for the Study of Law and Society, and from 2008-2011 served as co-editor of Regulation & Governance.   His publications include Regulatory Justice, (1978);  Going by the Book: The Problem of Regulatory Unreasonableness (1982, reprinted 2002) (with Eugene Bardach);  Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law (2001); Shades of Green: Business, Regulation, and Environment (2003) (with Neil Gunningham & Dorothy Thornton), plus  numerous articles on regulatory enforcement and compliance and on the relationships between politics, legal structures, and legal processes. Professor Kagan is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of  the Law and Society Association's Harry Kalven Prize for distinguished sociolegal scholarship and its Stanton Wheeler Award for teaching and mentorship, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award and Teaching Award of the Law-Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.

R. Daniel Kelemen is Associate Professor of Political Science, Jean Monnet Chair and Director of the Center for European Studies at Rutgers University.  His research interests include the politics of the European Union, law and politics, comparative political economy, and comparative public policy. He is author of two books - Eurolegalism: The Transformation of Law and Regulation in the European Union (Harvard University Press, 2011) and The Rules of Federalism: Institutions and Regulatory Politics in the EU and Beyond (Harvard University Press, 2004), as well as numerous book chapters and articles in journals including World Politics, International Organization, Comparative Political Studies, West European Politics, Journal of Public Policy and Journal of European Public Policy. He is also co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2008). He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of European Public Policy and West European Politics and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Association.  Prior to Rutgers, Kelemen was Fellow in Politics, Lincoln College, University of Oxford. He has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, a Fulbright Fellow in European Union Studies at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels and a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He was educated at Berkeley (A.B. in Sociology) and Stanford (M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science).