Public Law:280-298 (2007)

Annabelle Lever
SciencesPo, Paris
This article shows that judicial review has a democratic justification even though judges may be no better at protecting rights than legislatures. That justification is procedural, not consequentialist: reflecting the ability of judicial review to express and protect citizen’s interests in political participation, political equality, political representation and political accountability. The point of judicial review is to symbolize and give expression to the authority of citizens over their governors, not to reflect the wisdom, trustworthiness or competence of judges and legislators. Above a threshold level of competence – which may be impossible to determine a-priori – the legitimacy of judicial review does not turn on the special wisdom, virtue or personal qualities of judges. Instead, it reflects the importance that democracies properly attach to the ordinary virtues and competences of individuals in justifying power and authority. Hence, this article takes issue with the defence of judicial review in Eisgruber and Brettschneider, as well as with the critiques of judicial review found in Waldron and Bellamy.
Keywords democracy, judicial review, representation, accountability, participation, proceduralism, Jeremy Waldron, individual rights, equality
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