© 2013

The American Legal System and Civic Engagement

Why We All Should Think Like Lawyers

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 1-7
  3. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 9-19
  4. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 21-37
  5. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 39-72
  6. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 73-90
  7. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 91-101
  8. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 103-142
  9. Kenneth A. Manaster
    Pages 143-145
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 147-217

About this book


In recent years there has been a widely-recognized and serious lack of rational and civil public discussion about current issues. In The American Legal System and Civic Engagement, Manaster asserts that ordinary citizens can form their opinions on public issues more intelligently, confidently, and responsibly if they have some guidance on how to do it. Drawing from the tools and traditions of the American legal system, he offers guidance to aid citizens in understanding public issues and participating in the type of responsible public debate these challenging issues deserve. From analyzing the influence of the media in informing the public, to examining the role of the citizen as a juror, The American Legal System and Civic Engagement is a practical and informative guide to how Americans can better perform the civic duty that modern democracy requires.


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About the authors

Kenneth A. Manaster is Professor of Law and Presidential Professor of Ethics and the Common Good at Santa Clara University, USA, where he principally teaches environmental law, tort law, and administrative law. He has also taught at The University of Texas, Stanford University, and Hastings College of the Law. His other books include Environmental Protection and Justice and Illinois Justice: The Scandal of 1969 and the Rise of John Paul Stevens.

Bibliographic information


"This highly engaging book introduces lay readers to legal analytical methods, and shows how these methods can help to improve their capacity to develop informed opinions. Manaster convincingly demonstrates that the methods of legal analysis, such as having standards of evidence, respect for deliberate procedure, using expertise, identifying bias, and keeping an open mind, can give individuals guidance on how best to become informed on public issues, and that knowing these methods can enable readers to become more responsible citizens." - Kevin M. Esterling, Professor of Political Science, Univeristy of California, Riverside, USA

"In this lucid and convincing case for adopting the best practices of the legal system, Manaster makes an important and original contribution to our understanding of civic engagement. He is a brilliant translator of technical legal terminology into everyday language, providing a helpful citizen's guide to thinking like a lawyer and strengthening American democracy." - Janet A. Flammang, Professor of Political Science, Santa Clara University, USA

"Manaster eloquently offers an accessible method for citizens to exercise their most important duty in a democracy – forming and voicing their opinion on public issues. He teaches citizens to 'think like a lawyer,' showing how the process of legal reasoning can be used by ordinary people to form thoughtful opinions on the complex policy issues of our day." - Elizabeth S. Smith, Professor, Furman University, USA

"This book reminds us that law need not be seen as a conspiracy against the public, but that legal thinking and procedure can powerfully inform the practice of everyday citizenship. Drawing widely on the study of law, politics, and civic education, Manaster enriches each of these fields in accessible and insightful style." - Chad Raphael, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University, USA