Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good op-ed on judicial selection

Check out this article by Geoffrey Stone on judicial selection in the United States. Stone is arguing in the context of the American Constitution but the general points are still applicable to the South African constitution and judiciary. The article gives a decent outline about why the type of judges we appoint matters. What the Constitution and the law requires is not only a matter of application. Judges also engage in extensive moral and political reasoning. So, the moral and political philosophies of our judges can be an important determinant of the outcome of cases (particularly the cases that reach the SCA and Con Court).


  1. I'd be weary of interrogating the moral and political philosophies in SA, since the JSC has - certainly with the last round of schizophrenic judicial selection - demonstrated that it has no idea what, in fact, it is looking for.

    Before we ask questions about moral and political inclination, potentially invading privacy and sitting with a witch-hunt on our hands, SA has to establish exactly WHAT WE WANT in a judge.

  2. I don't there is any problem with investigating both the type of person we want and the philosophy they endorse. A good bench will probably be composed of a range of different judicial philosophies but I don't think we should have a range of corrupt-not corrupt judges. So yes, we need consensus on some aspects of judges but we also need to start debating what judicial philosophies we should have on the bench.

  3. That was my point, really.