Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Lesley A. Jacobs
Equality has been at the center of most modern theories of law. Indeed, Ronald Dworkin, perhaps the most influential American legal philosopher of the twentieth century, describes equality as the “sovereign virtue” of a legal system. The significance of equality is reflected in the fact that virtually all accounts of what constitutes the essentials of the rule of law stress that it involves along some dimension a commitment to equality. At the level of doctrinal law, some sort of right to equality is an integral part of the constitutions of most nations. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is, of course, a familiar illustration. Similar rights are expressed in the constitutions of countries as diverse as Canada, South Africa, and China. At the level of administrative law, criminal law, and the administration of justice, likewise, equality is widely viewed as playing an integral role. An important and unifying theme ...