Do Parliament and the Courts defend individual liberties and Democratic Values?

Essay by stressedoutstudentUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, July 2009

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IntroductionThis essay will discuss three main questions to enable a broad analytical review to address the topic. Firstly, it will discuss Kirby J’s comments in particular relating to judicial activism this has long been a controversial area of the judicial system with continuing debate between the executive government, the legislature and both current and past justices of the High Court in national and international spheres. The ongoing demonisation and vilification of judges by various arms of the media has added to much of the ignorance of what judicial activism is and what it sets out to achieve, therefore perpetuating the confusion that prevails. For this purpose the meaning of the term ‘judicial activism’ will be outlined and the implications and consequences it has on the system overall will be evaluated. Examples of cases where judicial activism has been implemented will be shown to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of the process and ultimate outcomes.

Secondly, this essay will discuss the Common Law system in reference to its capacity to adapt and change along with societal values and the ongoing need for judicial re-interpretation of historical constitutional text. Thus providing more evidence of the necessity of judicial activism (judicial review) albeit cautiously as we move further into the 21st century. Thirdly, the question of the ability of parliament and the courts to defend individual liberties and democratic rights, and the three branches of the government Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and their functionality will be discussed, thus further substantiating the evidence put forth.

Judicial ActivismOn November 23rd 2003, Australian high court Justice M. Kirby gave a speech in Cardiff at the Hamlyn lectures on ‘Judicial Activism.’ Kirby J argued that judicial activism (revision and reformation of law) was an absolute necessity and duty of judges where interpretation of the constitutional framework of...