Sunday, July 19, 2009

JUDICIAL VALUES: SHOULD JUDGES JUST APPLY THE LAW - OR SHOULD THEY BRING THEIR OWN VALUES TO THE TASK?: Forum

The questioning on "judicial values," phrased as "should judges just apply the law or should they bring their own values to the task" is not a uniquely American one.  Indeed, this is the topic on a forum to be held at The Law School of University of Sydney, Australia, August 27, details here.  

The participants include Justice Michael Kirby (former High Court Justice) and Professor Reg Graycar (University of Sydney), who were most recently discussed on Constitutional Law Prof Blog here and here, as well Professor Justin Malbon of Monash University and Bernhard Schlink.

ImageDB.cgi  Schlink, of course, is the author of the bestselling novel The Reader,  which is about a young man's affair with an older woman who is put on trial for her role in the Nazi regime.  The book was made into a popular movie in 2008.  

Schlink is not just a bestselling author, but also a Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law and the Philosophy of Law at Berlin's Humboldt University, who was previously a justice of the Constitutional Law Court in Bonn, Germany. 

The forum event is being held in conjunction with the Sydney Writers Festival and hosted by Damien Carrick of the Australian Radio National’s "The Law Report."  The publicity frames the discussion this way:

The [Australian] High Court attracted enormous criticism after the Mabo and Wik decisions [relating to Aboriginal land claims] for changing the law to suit the personal values of the (unelected) judges. Judges during the Nazi and South African apartheid eras were criticised for merely applying the law, and were accused of being accomplices to those grotesque regimes. Should judges apply their “judicial values” to their judicial tasks?

Schlink's most recent book is Guilt About the Past, a series of six essays based on his 2008 Weidenfeld lectures at Oxford University and being published by an Australian University Press.

RR

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