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Judges, politics and the Irish Constitution$
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Laura Cahillane, James Gallen, and Tom Hickey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526114556

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526114556.001.0001

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Merit, diversity and interpretative communities: the (non-party) politics of judicial appointments and constitutional adjudication

Merit, diversity and interpretative communities: the (non-party) politics of judicial appointments and constitutional adjudication

Chapter:
(p.136) 9 Merit, diversity and interpretative communities: the (non-party) politics of judicial appointments and constitutional adjudication
Source:
Judges, politics and the Irish Constitution
Author(s):

David Kenny

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526114556.003.0010

David Kenny’s chapter examines a recent proposals to eliminate politics from appointments with a system based on solely on ‘merit’. Merit, however, is an ‘empty vessels for substantive norms’ – it is filled with content that is invariably political. In Part II, the chapter argues that the composition of the judiciary in Ireland lacks diversity in terms of personal and educational background, and this compounds the homogeneity of judicial viewpoints, which inevitably shape our views on what the Constitution is for, and what the Constitution means, and therefore the diversity of our judiciary matters. In Part III, the chapter advance three suggestions in light of my conclusion that there are irreducible political considerations in judicial appointments: that we abandon the language of merit, along with any aspiration to nominate judges in a manner that expresses no political viewpoint about what judging should be; that, however we might reform judicial appointments to excise political patronage, we should not delegate this function from government to an independent body; and that we should increase the diversity of our judiciary, in terms of both professional and personal background. The way forward lies in admitting, rather than concealing, the politics at play in judicial appointments.

Keywords:   Judicial appointments, judicial politics, judicial diversity

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