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Mapping Judicial Independence

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Toward a Comparative Taxonomy

Judicial independence is increasingly viewed as a sine qua non of democratic constitutionalism. But in spite of a widespread consensus on the importance of having an independent judiciary, debates about the meaning of judicial independence persist in the literature. For scholars interested in comparative constitutional law, the uncertainty surrounding the definition of judicial independence is particularly vexing and raises several challenging questions: is there a universal set of conditions necessary for judicial independence? Or are there perhaps several models of a judicial independence? One issue that arises from these various questions is whether it is possible to develop a taxonomy of judicial independence. Although taxonomies inevitably produce an incomplete picture of the objects they classify, a taxonomy can assist comparative law scholars by providing an analytical framework for comparison. In Part 1 of this paper, the author explores the conceptual problems associated with finding a universal definition of judicial independence, arguing that there is no single, satisfactory definition of judicial independence. In Part 2 of the paper, the author addresses some of the methodological problems associated with developing a qualitative taxonomy. This is followed by a discussion of the organizing criteria that will be used to construct the four models of judicial independence found in the author’s proposed taxonomy.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, Thompson Rivers University, Faculty of Law; JD (Victoria), LLM (Toronto), Barrister & Solicitor (British Columbia), Mrankin@tru.ca

10.1163/2211906X-00201001
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/content/journals/10.1163/2211906x-00201001
2013-01-01
2016-12-09

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