Wednesday, February 24, 2010

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture to Law Commission of England and Wales

I picked this up on the website of the Law Commission of England and Wales: the Third Leslie Scarman Lecture by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States (Feb. 11, 2010, London, UK)

Her topic was the interaction between the judiciary and the legislative branch of government:

"(...) I will begin with a question routinely put to nominees for U. S. federal-court judgeships by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Does the nominee understand, and will she abide by the understanding, that policy and law making are the domain of the Legislature, while the job of a judge is simply to read and apply the law as written by legislators? That neat divide overlooks the tradition of common-law judging familiar to the many members of the U. S. Senate who hold law degrees. Nor does the description of the respective provinces of legislative and judicial authorities hold true today in civil-law systems, if, in reality, it ever did. Legislation is not uncommonly ambiguous or silent on issues presented in particular cases. And there may be higher laws — national constitutions and instruments of international governance — against which ordinary laws must be measured."

"My remarks on the interdependence or interaction of courts and the political branches of government stay mainly on home turf. They concern the ongoing dialogue between the U. S. Supreme Court and Congress in making and shaping U. S. laws, a dialogue in which the Court speaks through its opinions. But I will essay first a few comparative sideglances, illustrations of judicial contributions to lawmaking drawn from European systems."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:19 pm


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