Fighting for Political Freedom: Comparative Studies of the Legal Complex and Political Liberalism by Terence C. Halliday, Lucien Karpik, and Malcolm M. Feeley, eds.

Robert Russo

Abstract


Most mainstream media coverage of lawyers tends to focus on individual court rulings or
spectacular cases of individual character deficiencies within the legal profession.
Consequently, society in general has formed a world view that tends to overlook the role of
legal actors in struggling for basic rights in all except the most exceptional cases. Fighting
For Political Freedom: Comparative Studies of the Legal Complex and Political Liberalism
thus fills an essential gap in providing a view into worlds where “ordinary” members of the
legal complex regularly play pivotal roles in advancing the causes of liberal society. The
book frames its arguments by defining a “legal complex” whose core is composed of lawyers
and judges, but extends far beyond this to include all legally trained personnel in a society,
including civil servants and prosecutors involved in administering justice. The most
impressive contribution made by this book is the universality of the theory of the legal
complex’s relationship to political liberalism, and the application of the theory through a
collection of case studies spanning four continents. The 16 case studies in the book provide
a particularly useful reference guide for academics and human rights activists in the struggle
to establish or protect basic human rights in a wide variety of countries.

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