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A Precept of Managerial Responsibility: Securing Collective Justice in Institutional Reform Litigation


  • Anthony M. Bertelli
  • Laurence E. Lynn, Jr.


Institutional reform litigation places significant, and, at times, inappropriate constraints on the public manager’s ability to balance individual and collective justice. An exemplary misuse of such litigation was the recent New York child welfare case of Marisol A. v. Giuliani. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized an abstention doctrine allowing federal courts to avoid meddling with a state administrative scheme designed to achieve the aforementioned balance. Using the Marisol case as an illustration, we argue that where a state has established an administrative scheme in which public managers follow a precept of managerial responsibility, it must be given the opportunity to work. Claims should be brought in state court to build an instructive "common law," rather than in federal court to deduce process from individual rights. We show that public administration theory urges the same.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony M. Bertelli & Laurence E. Lynn, Jr., 2000. "A Precept of Managerial Responsibility: Securing Collective Justice in Institutional Reform Litigation," Working Papers 0011, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0011

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