Towards Democratic Judiciaries

17 April at 2 pm, Faculty of Arts of Comenius University

17. 04. 2023 12.41 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

Few today doubt that courts are important for safeguarding and maintaining democracy, particularly if democracy is not to be restricted to competition among strongmen. The 'D' word has nevertheless been frequently avoided in judicial discourse, particularly in civil law systems, due to it being seen as too much tainted with 'politics' instead of with 'law'. In turn, discussions about the 'law of democracy' tend to be confined to elections and, at best, referenda and other instruments of direct public participation in politics.

This event aims to engage with democracy in the context of courts and judges without confining the concept to elections. In so doing, it opens questions of judicial legitimacy in democracies and the role of courts and judges as sources of democratic legitimacy, the role and relevance of representation and diversity on the bench, the impact of societally unpopular decisions on courts, and the relationship between executives, legislatures and judiciaries.

Bringing together 'court insiders' (judges and advisors/clerks at the courts) with academics and members of the legal professions, it fosters a multidirectional transfer of ideas on democracy in judicial decision making and its societal reflections, that will strengthen our understanding of the role of courts in the 'democratic ecosystem' of the present. With Slovakia and the US centre-stage, insights from other jurisdictions as well as international courts are encouraged.

Session 1 (14.00-15.30) | The roles of judges in a democracy

Chair: Dr. Kirsten Roberts Lyer, Associate Professor, Central European University, Department of Public Policy

Coffee break (refreshments)

Session 2 (16.00-17.30) | Courts, Teachers and the Taught: judges as educators, judicial education and education about judiciaries

Chair: Dr. Erik Láštic, Associate Professor, Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Political Science

Speakers include (tbc):

JUDr. Ján Šikuta, PhD., President, Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (introductory remarks)

Judge David Campbell, Senior United States District Judge for the District of Arizona and Chair, U.S. Courts’ Committee on International Judicial Relations

Mgr. Michal Novotný, Judge and Senate Chairperson, Supreme Administrative Court of the Slovak Republic

Professor Cornell W. Clayton, Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government; Director, Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service, Washington State University; Fulbright Specialist, Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Political Science

Dr Antal Berkes, Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool, School of Law and Social Justice