Law’s Detour

Justice Displaced in the Bush Administration

240 pages

April, 2010

ISBN: 9780814795590



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


Peter Margulies is a Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law.

All books by Peter Margulies

From the Justice Department’s memos defending coerced interrogation to Alberto Gonzales’ firing of U.S. Attorneys who did not fit the Bush Administration’s political needs, Law’s Detour paints an alarming picture of the many detours that George W. Bush and his allies created to thwart transparency and undermine the rule of law after September 11, 2001. Pursuing those detours, Bush officials set up a law-free zone at Guantánamo, ordered massive immigration raids that separated families, and screened candidates for civil service jobs to ensure the hiring of “real Americans.”

While government needs flexibility to address genuine risks to national security—which certainly exist in the post-9/11 world—the Bush Administration’s use of detours distracted the government from urgent priorities, tarnished America’s reputation, and threatened voting and civil rights. In this comprehensive analysis of Bush officials’ efforts to stretch and strain the justice system, Peter Margulies canvasses the costs of the Administration’s many detours, from resisting accountability in the war on terrorism to thwarting economic and environmental regulation. Concise and full of compelling anecdotes, Law’s Detour maps these aberrations, surveys the damage done, and reaffirms the virtues of transparency and dialog that the Bush administration dismissed.


  • "Margulies helps us to understand how policy, legal detours, professional norms, and secrecy interact in our democracy."

    —Mark Tushnet, Trial Magazine

  • "Thoroughly enjoyable and informative discussion"

    International Law and Politics

  • “Margulies arrays the sordid history of the Bush Administration against the oft-overlooked structures of American government that protect us all as citizens. This analysis is important to any American interested in liberty or government.”

    —Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]