Starting from a teleological understanding of the rule of law, this article argues that private power is a rule of law concern as much as public power. One way of applying the rule of law to private power would be to limit instances of ‘lawlessness’ and arbitrariness through formal requirements and procedural guarantees. However, we argue that private power is, to a significant extent, constituted by law in the first place–and that its lawful exercise is no less pernicious than its unlawful exercise. Drawing on this constitutive function of law, we propose a normative core of the rule of law grounded on the moral equality of individuals. Attention to individuals’ needs, capabilities, and public autonomy points to requirements of distributive justice and democratic participation as part of the power-conferring function of law. Through a discussion of contestations of fossil fuel policy, the article shows the critical and empowering potential of a reconfigured rule of law.
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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.