The Rise and Fall of Heroic Chief Justices: Constitutional Politics and Judicial Leadership in Indonesia
Washington International Law Journal, 2016, Forthcoming
71 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015
Date Written: May 27, 2015
In the decade following its inception, the Indonesian Constitutional Court has marked a new chapter in Indonesian legal history, one in which a judicial institution can challenge the executive and legislative branches. This article argues that judicial leadership is the main contributing factor explaining the emergence of judicial power in Indonesia. This article posits that the newly established Indonesian Constitutional Court needed a strong and skilled Chief Justice to build the institution because it had no sufficient support from political actors. As the Court lacked a well-established tradition of judicial review, it needed a visionary leader who could maximize the structural advantage of the Court. Finally, the Court needed a heroic leader able to deal with the challenges and pressures from the government. This article examines the role of the four Chief Justices of the Indonesian Constitutional Court: Jimly Asshiddiqie (2003-2008), Mohammad Mahfud (2008-2013), Akil Mochtar (2013) and Hamdan Zoelva (2013-2015). Chief Justice Jimly Asshiddiqie and Muhmmad Mahfud set a high bar by playing the role of heroic Chief Justices. The departure of Asshiddiqie and Mahfud, however, marked the end an era of heroic Chief Justice. Both of Chief Justice Akil Mochtar and Hamdan Zoelva could not maintain the role of heroic Chief Justice.
Keywords: Indonesia, Constitutional Court, Judicial Review, Chief Justice, Comparative Constitutional Law
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