The decision not to sue

Suppose every judge were a Solomon—possessed with unusual insight and wisdom. And what if every jury could accurately discern the motives and actions of contestants. Would the court always be the appropriate forum for deciding who is right?

Not too many decades ago, taking a case to court would have been considered by many people a major step—one requiring a lot of thought to determine whether the issue was worth litigating. Today it seems—at least in the United States—there is hardly an issue that doesn't find its way into court for adjudication. In some instances this could be seen as a healthy trend—better a willingness to turn the dispute over to a disinterested third party who would establish a legal settlement than opting for an ongoing, unresolved battle. And, of course, legal decisions have provided, from time to time, profoundly significant directions for society. The court system and our code of laws can be enormously stabilizing factors when people face each other with divergent views.

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June 18, 1979

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