Expressive Law and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Alex C. Geisinger* & Michael Ashley Stein**

The question of why people follow the law has long been a subject of scholarly consideration. Prevailing accounts of how law changes behavior coalesce around two major themes: legitimacy and deterrence. Advocates of legitimacy argue that law is obeyed when it is created through a legitimate process and its substance comports with community mores. Others emphasize deterrence, particularly those who subscribe to law-and-economics theories. These scholars argue that law makes certain socially undesirable behaviors more costly, and thus individuals are less likely to undertake them.

* Professor, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
** Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability; Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School; Extraordinary Professor, University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights.
We thank Peter Blanck and Michael Waterstone for comments and Dylan Caplan for excellent research assistance.

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