The article’s topic is clear and straightforward as captured in the title – “The Judicialization of Mega-Politics and the Rise of Political Courts”. This title paints a concise picture in the readers’ mind concerning the contents and substance of the article. The reader can tell that the author talks about how the judicial system is being used to address mega-politics, thus giving rise to political courts in the process.
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The author was motivated by the lack of literature on the issue of judicialization of politics in different countries around the world. He argues that the available literature in political science discussing the judicialization of politics around the worlds remains sketch despite the increasing relevance of this issue in the study of both international and domestic politics (p. 95). Therefore, Hirschl felt the need to address this issue by writing the article. Additionally, the author believed that the current approaches (functionalist, rights-centered, institutionalist or court-centered) to the judicialization of politics do not acknowledge the role of politics in courts (p. 95). Hirschl argues that the available approaches do not consider the significance of conceptualizing courts as political institutions (p. 97). This aspect underlines one of the motives for writing this article.
Hirschl highlights several objectives explaining why he compiled this research article. The first aim is to “explore the nature and scope of the new level of judicialized politics, as well as recent scholarship that advances a realist political explanation of it” (p. 97). The writer also seeks to research the available recent studies that present the judicialization of politics as a political phenomenon. According to the author, power-thirsty courts and judges aiming to assert their influence or judicial activism and other societal factors cannot explain the current judicialization of pure politics that is being experienced around the world, especially among democratic nations (p. 97).
The first major finding of this article is that the leading academic publications on this topic focus on the American constitutional experience, thus making it the reference point. Hirschl argues that judicial activism and the American-style rights jurisprudence continue to be used as the hallmarks for the judicialization of politics (p. 95). Another finding is that for the successful judicialization of pure politics, immense support from the established political sphere is needed (p. 113). In the article, Hirschl establishes that constitutional courts together with their jurisprudence are part of the grand political set-up, and thus the issue cannot be understood outside politics. Ultimately, “A political quest for legitimacy, or for lowering risks or costs, is often what drives deference to the judiciary, in cases involving hotly contested political issues” (p. 113). In other words, everything that exists in constitutional courts is political. It is no longer based on rights jurisprudence.
One of the article’s strengths is the way it is structured and its general appearance. The paper starts with an introduction where the author highlights issues concerning the judicialization of mega-politics. Each paragraph carries a different idea, and it starts with a topic sentence. The body of the paper is divided into different subtopics, which are clearly labeled, and thus readers can follow the flow of ideas easily from the beginning to the end. Hirschl also uses credible reference materials to back his claims. He uses numerous sources for referencing based on what is available in the literature, and this aspect increases the credibility of the article. Finally, the author gives a disclosure statement indicating that he does not know of any biases to affect the objectivity of his review. This step is important when writing reviews because, in some cases, authors are biased due to different reasons.
The first outstanding weakness of the article is that the table of contents is placed at the end instead of coming at the beginning. Therefore, as readers start reviewing the article, they cannot see the contents of the paper. Normally, the table of contents gives readers a glimpse of what they expect to encounter when interacting with an article. In this case, readers have to scroll down the article to know what arguments are made in which sections. The second weakness is that the article is unnecessarily long. The introduction sounds like a treatise on the matters of judicial system and mega-politics. Some individuals may give up reading the article mid-way due to too much information.
The article is valuable to the intended audience because it introduces new insights about understanding the role of mega-politics in influencing court decisions. Initially, it was presumed that courts were concerned with rights jurisprudence. However, Hirschl proves that politics and judicial processes are closely related. Therefore, scholars in this area of study would be convinced to carry out further research on the topic to establish whether the claims made can be accepted in the mainstream theoretical framework of understanding constitutional law and politics. The article separates the idealist notion that constitutional law and courts are forums of principle from the reality that politics is a major driving force of the judicial process. These arguments underscore the value of the article to its audience.
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