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The controversy surrounding the recent presidential election focused the world's attention on the American political process and on one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy -- the legal right to vote and to have that vote counted. For 35 days, millions watched a seemingly endless drama of partisan bickering, legal maneuvering and allegations of misconduct, impropriety and subversive behavior. People are still debating whether the world saw democracy at its best or at its worst.
Looking beyond the politics of the matter, this controversy also showcased a phenomenon that has been evolving in our society for many years: the growing preference for judicial intervention in resolving disputes. While we are fortunate to live in a nation that is so strongly committed to the rule of law, the rising tide of litigation can adversely affect the climate of any organization, and college campuses are not immune.
Bypassing administrative and legislative authority in favor of the courts is becoming more frequent in our society, and it is redefining the way in which decisions are made, complaints are investigated and conflicts are resolved. For example, we look to the courts, not doctors, to tell women if they can terminate pregnancies. As we saw in Florida, the courts instruct election officials how to proceed and when to count votes. It has been the courts, not school board members or coaches, who have determined whether athletes can pray before a game. …