The Debate Over the Role of Restatements

In the past few years, we frequently have seen the charge that the ALI’s mission is to state what the law “is,” rather than what the Institute thinks the law “ought to be,” and that we recently have strayed from this mission and should right the ship. This charge most often is made when the ALI chooses to restate a minority rule. As one commentator wrote in criticizing the Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance (which, despite the criticism, followed majority rules in nearly all of its Sections): The adoption of a minority rule in a Restatement “is fundamentally inconsistent with the purpose of a Restatement of Law project.” Such comments rest on the notion that the ALI’s mission is simple, uncontested, and has always been so. That, however, is not the case.

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