The Dark Side by Jane Mayer: a moral obligation

I’m only on page 118 but already I feel justified in making the following recommendation.  Anyone who has any interest in what “the rule of law” means, or who has children, or who wants to know more about what America is, or who wants a clue about what may lie in store for the country and its citizens in the years to come should read The Dark Side by Jane Mayer. (links are to Amazon)

Any high school or secondary school teacher or college, university or community college professor who is interested and willing and capable of assigning a book that will generate questions about history, law, government, philosophy, morality and the obligations of being a US citizen should read The Dark Side and decide whether to use it in class.

At least one professor in every law school in the country should recommend The Dark Side to all of the school’s students and make himself or herself available to discuss the book even if not part of any class. 

Every law office – from solo practitioners to the largest firms, including public and private lawyers – should have a copy of The Dark Side in their library in the hope that at least some lawyers will make time to read it as part of CLE to deepen one’s understanding of what “the rule of law” means. Lawyers have a professional obligation to respect and to uphold the rule of law, which is only possible if one has an understanding of what the rule of law is.

In my view citizens who are lawyers have a special if not obligation then opportunity to have a basic understanding of what the rule of law means so that they can talk intelligently about it to family, friends, neighbors and to others in the community and in the profession.  

As Mayer’s superbly written book demonstrates vividly the meaning of “the rule of  law” has been drawn into question in a way that affects and that will affect the country and its citizens especially our children.

William Sloan Coffin, Yale’s Chaplain in the 1960’s and 70’s, once said in a sermon that “Every citizen has an obligation to confront the moral issues of his time.”  (Coffin’s sermon changed my life.)  The meaning of “the rule of law” is perhaps the most important moral issue confronting the United States today.  One way to begin to understand and to confront that issue is to read The Dark Side.