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Article

Access_open Restraint as a Source of Judicial ‘Apoliticality’

A Functional Reconstruction

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Urgenda, Miller v. Secretary of State, Norm of judicial apoliticality, Ronald Dworkin, Judicial restraint
Authors Maurits Helmich
AbstractAuthor's information

    Few legal theorists today would argue that the domain of law exists in isolation from other normative spheres governing society, notably from the domain of ‘politics’. Nevertheless, the implicit norm that judges should not act ‘politically’ remains influential and widespread in the debates surrounding controversial court cases. This article aims to square these two observations. Taking the Miller v. Secretary of State and Urgenda cases as illustrative case studies, the article demonstrates that what it means for judges to adjudicate cases ‘apolitically’ is itself a matter of controversy. In reflecting on their own constitutional role, courts are forced to take a stance on substantive questions of political philosophy. Nevertheless, that does not mean that the ‘norm of judicial apoliticality’ should therefore be rejected. The norm’s coherence lies in its intersocial function: its role in declaring certain modes of judicial interpretation and intervention legitimate (‘legal’/‘judicial’) or illegitimate (‘political’).


Maurits Helmich
Maurits Helmich is promovendus aan de afdeling Sociologie, Theorie en Methodologie van het Recht aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open The Obligation of Judges to Uphold Rules of Positive Law and Possibly Conflicting Ethical Values in Context

The Case of Criminalization of Homelessness in Hungary

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Judicial independence, Rule of law, Judicial ethics, Hungary, Criminalization of homelessness
Authors Petra Gyöngyi
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the tension between the constitutional obligation of judges to uphold rules of positive law and possibly conflicting standards of conduct arising from professional-ethical values. The theoretical analysis will be illustrated by the case of Hungary, an EU member state experiencing rule of law challenges since 2010 and where the 2018-2019 criminalization of homelessness exemplifies the studied tension. Inspired by the theories of Philip Selznick and Martin Krygier, rule of law will be viewed as a value that requires progressive realization and context-specific implementation. By contextualizing the relevant Hungarian constitutional framework with the content of the judicial code of ethics and judicial practice, it will be shown how the legitimate space for Hungarian judges to distance themselves from legislation possibly in conflict with rule of law values is reduced. Theoretical suggestions for addressing such rule of law regressions will be made.


Petra Gyöngyi
Petra Gyöngyi is postdoctoral fellow aan de University of Oslo.
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