In 1880, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. defined law as the predictions of what courts would do. Others, particularly his intellectual opponent Christopher Columbus Langdell, perceived law as a system of language and rules. This book offers an interpretation of American law and a method for judicial decision making. Donnelly offers a vision of American law "as an activity engaged in by a variety of players including judges, advocates for the plaintiff and defendants, law reformers, scholars and perhaps all of us." A central argument is that law is concerned with persons and their relations. Arguably, during the 20th century there was, in jurisprudential thought, a step-by-step, piecemeal recovery of a role for the person in the law. The next logical step in the 21st century is an explicitly person-centered jurisprudence as interpretation of American law.
An important aspect of this book is its critique of both legal and general intellectual method. Lawyers concerned with critiques of judicial decision-making, judges, law professors, and law students will find this book invaluable, as will political scientists, philosophers and social scientists.
The foreword to A Personalist Jurisprudence, The Next Step is written by Vice President Joseph Biden.
"I think Donnelly's work may well be an invaluable guide in considering what counts most in a Supreme Court justice...a method for interpretation which will be in accord with his commitment to afford all persons deep respect and concern and try to understand persons, their needs and their horizons." — Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President
"This book is recommended for those interested in jurisprudence, legal philosophy, or constitutional theory." — Bimonthly Review of Law Books, May/June 2003
"All seven chapters are readable and superbly presented with excellent subsections and summary conclusions. Highly recommended." — CHOICE Magazine, December 2003