Human Rights and Judicial Review: A Comparative Perspective

Article excerpt

Human Rights and Judicial Review: A Comparative Perspective, edited by David M. Beatty. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994. Pp. 361. $135.00 (hardcover).

Societies around the world are turning to systems of government that entrust the protection of basic human rights to constitutions and judicial review. This wave of constitutionalism coincides with important occurrences in the history of human rights. It is just over 200 years since the United States embarked on its own experiment with constitutional protection of its peoples' rights against the abuse of state power. Human Rights and Judicial Review: A Comparative Perspective is a collection of essays intended to introduce readers to the methods of analysis used by courts around the world to protect human rights. The book is an effort to share with nations now developing their own constitutional systems the experiences of courts that have a history of protecting human rights by subjecting constitutional violations to judicial review.

The book begins with "Human Rights and the Rules of Law," an essay addressing the theoretical debate over the desirability of entrusting to judicial review the protection of basic constitutional rights. In this introductory essay David Beatty, the book's editor, provides an overview of the development of human rights protection. Specifically, Beatty introduces readers to the concepts of reasonableness and rationality, concepts common to all constitutional guarantees of basic human rights.

Each of the seven essays that make up the body of Human Rights and Judicial Review explains the principles and methods of review undertaken by a specific court. The first of these essays is by Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia focuses on the freedoms of religion and speech, limitations on police and penal authorities, and restrictions on discrimination to illustrate various methods of judicial review of rights under the U.S. Constitution.

The second essay examines the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In this essay Frank Iacobucci, a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, discusses unique features of the Canadian Charter, as well as methods used by the Supreme Court of Canada to enforce rights guaranteed by the Charter.

In the third essay Itsuo Sonobe, justice of the Supreme Court of Japan, addresses the Japanese system of judicial review-modeled after the U. …