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Working Paper

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This essay examines the charge that activist judging is inconsistent with democracy in the light of two recent perspectives in legal scholarship. The perspectives – Democratic Constitutionalism and Democratic Experimentalism – suggest in convergent and complementary ways that the charge ignores or oversimplifies relevant features of both judging and democracy. In particular, the charge exaggerates the pre-emptive effect of activist judging, and it implausibly conflates democracy with electoral processes. In addition, it understands consensus as a basis for judicial legitimacy solely in terms of pre-existing agreement and ignores the contingent legitimacy that can arise from the potential for subsequent agreement.


Civil Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Constitutional Law | Jurisprudence | Law