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This essay is contributed in recognition of Don Wallace’s dedication to furthering procedural justice in the U.S. and abroad. Don’s interests are wider than anyone else’s I can think of. Even though China and Chinese law are not represented in his published scholarship, in the course of our long friendship he has expressed thoughtful interest in many ways, including his constructive participation in the first delegation of the American Bar Association to visit China, which I escorted in 1978, and his later visits to China. Under Don’s leadership as Director of the International Law Institute at the Georgetown Law School, the Institute has provided technical assistance and capacity training support in China or many years.

This is a summary discussion of specific aspects of the struggle to strengthen the enforcement of individual rights in China. Although the Chinese Constitution sets forth principles of such rights, it is a programmatic document that is not justiciable. This essay first reviews the failure of attempts to convince the courts to permit citizens to rely on the Constitution as a basis for adjudicating claims that rights enumerated in that document have been violated. It then turns to administrative law, which is sometimes invoked by inventive lawyers and law reformers searching for what some have called “sub-constitutional” laws that could function as partial substitutes for the Constitution. It closes with brief discussion of recent suggestions that closer links between courts and local political authorities could increase the effectiveness of the courts.


Administrative Law | Law | Rule of Law