Against Kadijustiz: On the Negative Citation of Foreign Law

35 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015 Last revised: 27 Jun 2015

See all articles by Intisar A. Rabb

Intisar A. Rabb

Harvard Law School; Harvard University

Date Written: May 7, 2015


In the arguments about the judicial citation of foreign law, judges are arguing about values. But they often do not acknowledge the values that they are debating or give specific rationales for why they prefer one value over the other in their majority and dissenting opinions, preferring instead to adopt negative models of foreign law against which to make a general claim. One example of this phenomenon is the American judicial citation of “kadijustiz” — a term introduced by Max Weber and popularized by Justice Felix Frankfurter in a 1949 decision — to refer to arbitrariness. But this practice is wrong because for two reasons. First, it is inaccurate, as Islamic legal historians have long pointed out in detailing Islamic judicial procedure in Mamluk, Ottoman, and other courts from the medieval to early modern periods. Second, judicial citation of kadijustiz obscures the reasons for adopting certain values over others in contested judicial decision-making, thereby weakening invoking-judges’ arguments overall.

Keywords: qadi, Islamic law, judicial procedure, citation of foreign law, comparative law, legal reasoning, interpretation, pathetic argument, statutory interpretation, constitutional law

Suggested Citation

Rabb, Intisar A., Against Kadijustiz: On the Negative Citation of Foreign Law (May 7, 2015). Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. XLVIII, No. 343, 2015, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 15-11, Available at SSRN:

Intisar A. Rabb (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics