POSC 130g Midterm Study Sheet
The logic of the triad – we need referees: litigant 1, litigant 2, court. It is
must be consent (picked poison), ceremony (no accidents, formalized), rule of law
(crucial to maintain relationship). A paradox is that when the third decides in favor of one
of the two disputants, a shift occurs from the triad to a structure that is perceived by the
loser as two against one. Courts have a prototype involving an independent judge
applying preexisting legal norms after adversary proceedings in order to achieve a
dichotomous decision in which one of the parties was assigned the legal right and the
other found wrong. Almost no society fails to employ this social invention of triads since
it is so universal across time and space.
Self-help – if the courts fail, taking matter into your own hands.
. Costs of
self-help are there are no procedural checks against mistakes or arbitrary action, there is
limited access, and escalation may occur. Advantages of self-help are that they are
tailored and particularized so that people may compromise, it is efficient, quick, there are
no lawyers, the parties know all of the information, and it can engender mutual
accommodation because the resolution is reached together.
The rule of law – the expectation that legal disputes will be resolved according to pre-
existing rules and procedures, regardless of the status
within society of individual
U.S. v. Nixon – The Supreme Court ruled that President Richard Nixon could not
withhold tapes of White House conversations from a federal district court that was
seeking them for use in a criminal prosecution. Nixon complied with the court orders,
despite likely resignation. He had to hand over the tapes and was forced to resign. You
might expect the courts to be b rushed aside for political reasons, but the court effectively
resolved each dispute. Furthered the promise of orderly dispute resolution. The source of
legitimacy was the logic of the triad. Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled against Nixon’s
claim of executive privilege.
NY Times v. Sullivan – no longer tool of censorship, libel is written untruths. Its basic
elements are falsity, causation (has to cause harm), and standard of care (violation). The
court promotes press freedom against entrenched political elites in the South and helps
preserve an active campaign of civil disobedience. You might expect the courts to be b
rushed aside for political reasons, but the court effectively resolved each dispute.
Brown v. Board of Education – The Supreme Court ordered the elimination of racially
segregated school systems. Set agenda, set coalition building, policy prudence – be smart,
elite/public acceptance. The decision did not unilaterally transform educational policies.
The court was explicitly attempting to use its power to change policy, rather than to