Schmitt, Carl (1888–1985)

Carl Schmitt was twentieth-century Germany's most theoretically ambitious right-wing authoritarian jurist. He was certainly among the most controversial because of his decision to join the National Socialist Party in 1933 and his subsequent attempt to become the “crown jurist of the Third Reich.” Despite his sordid Nazi-era political involvements, Schmitt has exerted substantial influence on legal thinking in many parts of Europe since 1945. He has recently become a popular topic for scholarly inquiry outside Germany as well, with some left-wing scholars in the Englishspeaking world now turning to his ideas to discredit legal liberalism.

The source of Schmitt's influence is easy to identify. His writings are filled with provocative and penetrating insights about his chief intellectual target, liberal jurisprudence. Underscoring the impossibility of directly deducing ...

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