the Irish for rights

The Role of the Supreme Court

US Supreme CourtInteresting coincidence. At around the same time that Donncha O’Connell, Dean of the Faculty of Law, NUI Galway was this week welcoming Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court to Galway [she was in Trinity the following day] and objecting to single judgments by the Irish Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s boss, Chief Justice John Roberts, was telling law students in Northwestern University that his court should strive for precisely that, provoking a predictable storm of welcomes and worries.

These two speeches neatly encapsulate an important philosophical constitutional debate both in the US and in Ireland. It is a debate between those who think that a Supreme Court (as a court of final appeal) should be prepared to articulate broad principles to guide lower courts and the future development of the law, and those who think that, as a court, it should avoid political controversy as much as possible by deciding only the individual case before it. In truth, it is an irresolvable conflict of judicial-political dogma. Those on one side will not change the minds of those on the other, but they can influence the undecided observers. And this raises a sub-theme with which I have more sympathy: that, whatever direction the courts take in a given case or over time, they should do it as well as possible – good judicial craft will go a long way towards making either choice acceptable, palatable or persuasive.

Related Tags: [ ]

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Eoin O'Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie - the Irish for rights.

"Cearta" really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.