Adam Gopnik describing the ideas of Harvard Law School professor William Stuntz:
In a society where Constitution worship is still a requisite on right and left alike, Stuntz startlingly suggests that the Bill of Rights is a terrible document with which to start a justice system—much inferior to the exactly contemporary French Declaration of the Rights of Man, which Jefferson, he points out, may have helped shape while his protégé Madison was writing ours.
The trouble with the Bill of Rights, he argues, is that it emphasizes process and procedure rather than principles. The Declaration of the Rights of Man says, Be just! The Bill of Rights says, Be fair! Instead of announcing general principles—no one should be accused of something that wasn’t a crime when he did it; cruel punishments are always wrong; the goal of justice is, above all, that justice be done—it talks procedurally. You can’t search someone without a reason; you can’t accuse him without allowing him to see the evidence; and so on. This emphasis, Stuntz thinks, has led to the current mess, where accused criminals get laboriously articulated protection against procedural errors and no protection at all against outrageous and obvious violations of simple justice.
This brings up to me a cherished thesis that a lot of 20th century formal efforts are conscious or unconscious descendants of Russell’s logicist programme, but unperturbed by the limit imposed by Church/Gödel. The incompleteness result has been much abused, so I need to advertise or defend such a thesis with some care, rather than as a throw away reference. But here it is, anyway.