Richard Kay

Document Type



Comparative and Foreign Law


A symposium dedicated to the paradoxical idea of rebellious leadership, therefore, is a particularly apt way to honor Dean Macgill's tenure. This phrase also captures a notion that is especially fruitful when applied to basic questions of constitutional structure and political value. Every legal system rests, at the end, on a set of political assumptions. Every instance of law, that is, is ultimately supported by something that is not law. When, as inevitably happens, there develops a fundamental disharmony between the artifacts of law and the political values of a society the law will have to give way. When this phenomenon occurs-at least when it occurs abruptly-we call it a revolution.

There thus appears to be a fundamental opposition between law and revolution. But the same people and the same events may exhibit an affinity for both notions. Since every legal system must refer either explicitly or implicitly to its alegal source, every invocation of law is, at the same time, a kind of implementation of the original revolutionary act. Somewhat less obviously even revolutionaries may demonstrate an attachment to law--even to the law of the constitutional system they are destroying.