Police Hypothesis

Hypothesis 1: Police are constrained by laws enacted by legislatures and upheld by courts. That’s a major reason why laws and court decisions are important in defending a free society.

Hypothesis 2: Police rarely have any idea what the laws and court decisions say, and they do not care to know. They fancy their own actions to be “the law” by definition, they act as free-range kidnappers and executioners whenever they wish, and they almost always get away with this effectively unconstrained discretionary action.

I find the evidence on the whole more consistent with Hypothesis 2.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.