The Judge in a Democracy

The Judge in a Democracy

The Judge in a Democracy

The Judge in a Democracy

Excerpt

I am not a philosopher. I am not a political scientist. I am a judge—a judge in the highest court of my country's legal system. So I ask myself a question that many supreme court judges—and, in fact, all judges on all courts in modern democracies —ask themselves: What is my role as a judge? Certainly it is my role, and the role of every judge, to decide the dispute before me. Certainly it is my role, as a member of my nation's highest court, to determine the law by which the dispute before me should be decided. Certainly it is my role to decide cases according to the law of my legal system. But is that all that can be said about my role? Are there criteria for assessing the quality of my work as a judge? Certainly no such assessment should be based on the aesthetic quality of my writing. Nor should the criterion be the number of sources I cite in my decisions. But then what would be a meaningful criterion? What is my role, and do I even have a role beyond merely deciding the dispute before me according to the law? These questions occupy me daily as I enter the courtroom and take my seat on the bench. In my twenty-six years of service on the Supreme Court of Israel, I have written thousands of opinions. But am I a “good” judge?

See generally Michael Kirby, “Judging: Reflections on the Moment of Decision,”
18 Austl. B. Rev. 4 (1999); Beverley M. McLachlin, “The Charter: A New Role
for the Judiciary?” 29 Alta. L. Rev. 540 (1991); Beverley M. McLachlin, “The
Role of the Court in the Post-Charter Era: Policy-Maker or Adjudicator?” 39 U.
N.B. L.J. 43 (1990); Georghios M. Pikis, “The Constitutional Position and Role
of the Judge in a Civil Society,” Commonwealth Jud. J., Dec. 2000, at 7.

Although aesthetics are important, as Richard Posner's discussion of Justice
Cardozo indicates. See Richard A. Posner, Cardozo: A Study in Reputation 10, 42,
143 (1990).

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.