Washington Law Review


Protection of individual rights has been a central feature of much of the judicial review by supreme courts in Western countries in the postwar era. Concepts such as individual dignity and privacy, as well as more classical notions of liberty and equality before the law, have been the standard repositories of constitutional interpretation by courts reviewing governmental legislation and administrative action. The concept and practice of judicial review have penetrated, albeit in a limited way, even legal cultures which for long have resisted, such as Britain and France. I Indeed, judicial review in general and the protection of individual rights in particular, are widely considered as a conditio sine qua non of democracy and the rule of law. But it is no exaggeration to say that all jurisdictions where this judicial power is exercised—even the oldest, the United States—have seen in the last forty years fierce controversies concerning the limits within which, and the principles upon which, judges should exercise their power to overturn majoritarian legislation.

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