Monday, January 22, 2024

Julius Yam on Judging Under Authoritarianism (Modern Law Review)

"Judging Under Authoritarianism"
Julius Yam
Modern Law Review
Published online: December 2023

Abstract: Authoritarianism has significant implications for how judges should discharge their duties. How should judges committed to constitutionalism conduct themselves when under authoritarian pressure? To answer this question, the article proposes a two-step adjudicative framework, documents a variety of judicial strategies, and proposes how principles and strategies can and should be incorporated into the framework in different scenarios. The first step of the adjudicative framework involves judges identifying the ‘formal legal position’ while blindfolding themselves to extra-legal factors (such as potential authoritarian backlash). In the second step, depending on the level of risk incurred by maintaining the formal legal position, judges should lift the blindfold to check whether, and if so how, the formal legal position should be supplemented with or adjusted by judicial strategies. Through this analysis, the article offers a guide to judicial reasoning under authoritarianism.

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