Judicial Innovation and Local Politics: Judicialization of Administrative Governance in East China
China Journal, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2012 Last revised: 11 Apr 2012
Date Written: March 19, 2012
Drawing on data from a mid-sized city in eastern China, this article examines the interactions among the courts, the Party, and other administrative agencies. It finds that the courts, caught between the unruly administrative agencies and legal rhetoric, seek support from the Party to enhance their authority. They then devise tactics such as putting the chief official of agencies on the stand, issuing judicial suggestions, and innovatively applying the laws. Many of these tactics prove effective, as agencies adjust their behaviors accordingly. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the courts are only a passive actor in local politics, the development indicates that the role of the courts is by no means negligible in translating the national laws into local practice. By exploring the dynamics of court-government relations in the context of administrative litigation, this article argues that local politics is a crucial factor in determining the trajectory of China’s judicialization of administrative governance and rule of law more generally.
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