Understanding Law for Public Administration

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Cynicism about the law abounds. The legislative process often seems aimless, and individuals regularly suffer injustice in the court system. Despite even the best intentions, the law will be flawed—it is a human endeavor subject to human limitations and differences. But history proves that there is no form of governance better suited to the pursuit of happiness than a rule of law. Studying the law in principle and in practice enables us to honor it when it works and to reform it when it does not.

This book is for students and practitioners of public administration and policy and for anyone else who wants to better understand how law relates to the public good. It combines an introduction to basic legal principles with an analysis of instructive cases and practical advice. Relevant opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court as well as other federal and state courts provide insights into how judges interpret the law and define fundamental rights.

For this new 2024 edition, all chapters have been updated to reflect changes in the law over the last twelve years. Many of the case references are different, either because of those changes in the law or because teaching the material to hundreds of students inspired new avenues of thought.

This book’s perspective was formed not only from law study and teaching but also from decades of direct experience giving legal advice, representing clients in disputes, and working with public officials on legal problems and law reform. This experience has revealed serious shortcomings with the legal system. It also has illuminated the importance of taking personal responsibility for doing better. Making the right choices should matter to us all, whether we draw from religious belief, philosophical principles, or scientific knowledge. No one alone can change the world, but our fate depends on the cumulative effect of individual choices.

Publication date: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Charles Szypszak
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