The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice

Prima Publishers 2000, Random House 2008

In this updated and expanded edition of The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Paul Craig Roberts and IPE Research Fellow Lawrence M. Stratton renew their valiant campaign to reclaim that which is rightly ours–liberty protected by the rule of law. They show how crusading legislators and unfair prosecutors are remaking American law into a weapon wielded by the government and how the erosion of the legal principles we hold dear–such as habeas corpus and the prohibition against self-incrimination–is destroying the presumption of innocence. A new introduction and new chapters cover recent marquee cases and make this provocative book essential reading for anyone who cringes at the thought of unbridled state power and sees our civil liberties slowly slipping away in the name of the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, and the War on Terror.

Praised by both the right and the left, Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman called the book “a devastating indictment of our current system of justice.” Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz said, “The Tyranny of Good Intentions demonstrates why both conservatives and liberals who despise tyranny must unite against statists of both the right and the left who would deprive us of liberty for their partisan ends.”



"The Tyranny of Good Intentions is a bold defense of our fundamental freedoms. It demonstrates that government oppression is not a right-left issue, but rather a universal evil that should be resisted by all free people. It demonstrates why conservatives and liberals who despise tyranny must unite against statists of both the right and the left who falsely believe that partisan ends justify depravations of liberty. . . .When rights are subordinated to government power, the first steps toward tyranny are taken."

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, Professor of Law, Harvard University; author of The Genesis of Justice


"I went to law school to understand law’s role in society, but was taught instead that government lawyers should run society from on high with little need to comply with time-honored rules designed to keep them honest and accountable to the society. Roberts and Stratton reveal the roots of the problem. How strange it is that I, a law professor, learned so much about the law from a book whose lead author is an economist."

DAVID SCHOENBROD, Professor of Law, New York Law School


"A devastating indictment of our current system of justice and a call to arms to restore hard-earned protections of human freedom that are now routinely violated by government officials."

MILTON FREIDMAN, Nobel Laureate in Economics


"[This book] is a solid critique of our nation’s criminal justice system, which has strayed egregiously from its fundamentals and is continuously assailing the Rights of the Englishmen and the constitutional protections of our citizenry. “Good intentions have transformed law,” note the authors, “from a shield for the innocent to a weapon used by the police. Having lost the law, we have acquired tyranny.” With increasing lawlessness, the nefarious tactics of law enforcement are increasingly becoming indistinguishable from those of the “criminal underworld.” The Anglo-American common law tradition is losing ground to zealous prosecutors, insensitive regulators, and overly ambitious law enforcement. They are increasingly blinded by ambition and lacking any ethical sense of fairness and integrity as many seldom afford dignity or concern for those they investigate."

Amazon review by R. Setliff


"Though I am not an attorney I have several friends who are attorneys. One of them gave me a copy of this wonderful book by Roberts and Stratton three weeks ago. After looking at the book for two weeks I picked it up and read it it two sessions. There are enough facts in the book that I am already familiar with to know in my gut that these two fellows are right on target. Their research and conclusions are troubling, but true. It takes a real piece of work to get men as diverse as Alan Dershowitz, Gordon Liddy and Milton Friedman to recommend a work like this. But this book is a piece of work, the most important book I’ve read this year and the Christmas present I plan on giving my thinking friends."

Amazon review by Dr. John S. Waldrip


"The Tyranny of Good Intentions should make those who participate in our political and legal systems uncomfortable, if not self-loathing. Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M Stratton’s principal argument is that what passes for “law” in the current civil climate is far removed from the “long struggle to establish the people’s sovereignty” that dates back to pre-Norman England. Simply put, the law has been transformed from a shield that protects the people from the encroachments of government power into a sword that enables the government to lord over people. Those who are weary of the ongoing government assault on Microsoft and the tobacco industry or of the continued evisceration of civil liberties under the tutelary banner of the drug war should immediately recognize this transformation."

The Independent Review by Nikos A. Leverenz


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