Despite recent events that have shown otherwise, there is still something about courts and the law that makes us feel as if they are separate from politics. Part of this feeling derives from the symbols and language that courts employ, the fact that people expect justice from the legal system, and the important functions that courts perform. However, the law and courts are political in that they fit in with the definition of politics used in this book. The political aspects of the law become clearer when one ponders the difference between law in books and law in action. The political nature of law and the courts becomes further apparent when you realize that people have varying theories about the law and that different nations use different types of legal systems. When you learn about the many different types of law that exist and how these types of law apply in the real world, some of the mystery that surrounds the courts and the law is stripped away.
Students should learn two important lessons from this chapter. First, a nation’s legal institutions, like its other political institutions, perform important functions for its society. Second, there have been an amazing number of television shows dealing with the law, and it looks like we’re in for another wave of them. Obviously, there are riches in store for the person who can come up with any original idea in this popular genre.